University of California • Berkeley
THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
THE CLIFFS ON MORGAN CREEK
THE LOG OF A
WILLIAM PINKNEY LAWSON
DUFFIELD & COMPANY
BY DUFFIELD & COMPANY
PAUL P. PITCHLYNN
A GOOD BOSS AND A REGULAR FELLOW.
Public knowledge of the reasons for the existence
of the United States Forest Service is fairly wide-
spread and accurate. Conservation — the intelli-
gent use and development of the resources of our
National Forests, has worked its way into the list
of the Nation's permanent policies. But while most
people are agreed as to the desirability of the work
the Forest Service is doing and know in a general
way what that work is, there exists a surprising lack
of information as to the actual life and day-to-day
duties of Service field men : Supervisors and For-
est Assistants, Eangers and Guards.
"The Log of a Timber Cruiser " is in part an
attempt to furnish such information — at least in one
phase of Forest Service activity — by detailing the
incidents of a six months' field assignment in the
mountains of southern New Mexico. If, in addition,
the reading of this account provides half the enter-
tainment which the recording of the events as they
occurred brought, I shall feel very much more than
Grateful acknowledgment is due Mr. Gifford
Pinchot, the former Forester; Mr. Herbert A. Smith,
Editor of the Forest Service; Mr. Bristow Adams,
of the Washington Office; Mr. Arthur C. Ringlandj
District Forester of the Southwest; and Mr. Don
P. Johnson, Supervisor of the Gila National Forest,
for their careful examination of the manuscript and
for their many suggestions to which in no small
measure whatever of merit the story possesses must
Eeaders of the manuscript have suggested that
a number of terms used, while common enough
in the locality where the story is set or in Forest
Service circles, may not be familiar to the general
reader. To obviate this difficulty without stopping
in every case during the action of the log to explain
such expressions a brief glossary is appended which
defines those words and phrases that seem most
to want defining. I think that's all — except the
W. P. L.
New York City,
I THE RECONNAISANCE PARTY ..... 1
II GETTING STARTED ...... . . 9
III THE FIRST DAY'S WORK ...... 15
IV SAWYER'S PEAK ........ 27
Y CRUISING .......... 33
YI MOAK'S ADVENTURE . . . . . . . 43
VII HORACE HAS AN ADVENTURE . . . . 48
iVIII AROUND THE FIRE . . . . . . . .54
IX EWING'S STORY ......... 58
X A RECORD RUN . . y > . •. . . 66
XI PHOBY-CATS . ..>••• -. . . v . . 72
XII ROUNDING THE SOUTH END . y >• . . 78
XIII FIRE ...;.. . . 86
XIV THE RAINY SEASON . . >: w . . . 93
XV BERT SEES THINGS . . ;. y v . . 101
XVI HORACE TAKES A STAND . . >: -.« . . 107
XVII THE ANIMAS. . . . . r., :. . . . 116
XVIII WORKING THE ANIMAS . > . -. . . 123
XIX RATTLERS . . . .- . . > y .- . 130
XX ON TOP AGAIN .... . . . . . 137
XXI THE END OF EWING'S STORY . . > . 144
XXII OLD MAN REED ........ 150
XXIII HORACE "COMES BACK" . -. . . . . 156
XXIV ON DIAMOND CREEK . 164
XXV LOST MAN'S PARK 170
XXVI AT THE DIAMOND BAB 176
XXVII HANK HOTCHKISS 184
XXVIII THE LAST CAMP ......... 190
XXIX FINIS ...... . . 197
GLOSSARY . . . ^ . .., . 205
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
The Cliffs on Morgan Creek . . . . . Frontispiece
Bob Moak, the Veteran
At Work in the Field J
Frazer, the Chief ....... 4
The Cruiser Climbs High Peaks 10
Or Descends Into Yawning Canyons 10
What the cruiser faces when setting out on a run . . 18
This rugged region in the Black Range though bare of
trees on top, was cruised to catch timber in the can-
yons and for map work 18
Sample Plot Work 22
Easy Going for the Baseline Crew 22
("Brown Setting a Cruiser's Sta-
Conway and Stadia
[Frazer Cruising .... . 24
fin Dense Cover
The Cruiser at Work J" Shall I Off set ?"
[Scaling Cliffs . . . -. . . 30
Lunch Time 38
A Typical Eock Slide ........... 46
What the Cruiser Dreads . 50
The " Woodland Type" of Timber ...... 60
On the Slope of the Main Ridge 68
A Trail Through the Cliffs
The Jumping Off Place .... 74
In moving from Donahue's Canyon we drove the bur-
ros along an almost invisible trail ... ... ^ k.. ^ 78
Perils of the Way < \
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
A halt for repairs. One of the packs slipped here and
held up the whole procession 78
Fire guard Reid on his look-out tower on Hillsboro
"When we arrived the fire was climbing to the top" 82
The approach of the fire ... . . . . . > 86
Fire in the brush 86
"When the fire at length rose above the ridge, we were
^^ , . 98
Lumbering at O'Brien's ......... 104
McKnight Canyon 110
Over the McKnight- Animas Divide 118
Whitey in deep trouble 118
In the Animas country 124
Black River 134
Evening on the range 142
The northern limit of our work 150
"Old Man Reed's Place" 154
Panorama of range near the head of Diamond Creek . 158
At the source of Black River, where the Continental
Divide crosses 158
First camp on Diamond Creek . . . . A >. . . 164
The Diamond Bar Range .......... 172
Preparing for the party ......... 180
Washing day 180
The last move -.- . . . 192
View at evening from the last camp in the Black Range 200
Typical cruising country in the higher levels . . . 200
THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
THE LOG OF A TIMBER
THE RECONNAISSANCE PARTY
I WAS under appointment as Forest Guard on the
Gila National Forest when the opportunity to take
up reconnaissance work came. The Supervisor's
letter was brief. It ran as follows:
"We can use another man on the Gila Cruising party
which will work the Black Range this summer; would you
like the assignment? If so, report to "Walter C. Frazer,
Chief of Party, at Silver City, not later than May 1. You
will receive your present salary of $900 per annum with
expenses while in the field. The work, it is expected, will
last about six months.
"You are perfectly free to accept or decline the offer of
this position. I will say, however, that unless you are
opposed for personal reasons to tackling reconnaissance, the
present chance to learn the methods of this branch of silvi-
culture is an excellent one. ' '
Though somewhat flattered by the offer, my first
impulse was to decline it. I had heard much of
reconnaissance — the cruising of timbered areas and
the topographical mapping of regions usually wild
2 LTHE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
and mountainous, often unsurveyed1 and well-nigli
inaccessible. I knew by hearsay that the work
was the most trying, physically, of any in the Forest
Service; that only the hardiest might hope to suc-
cessfully undergo the ordeal set the cruiser. It
meant, I was aware, living for months on end in
camps, a tent for home and the ground a constant
couch. ^. It meant toiling daily over brush-covered
hills, across malpais-strewn mesas, through tangled
thickets of woven thorns and fallen aspen, over jut-
ting peaks or down into treacherous canyons with
sides of sheer granite or sliding shale. Day in and
day out, I knew, one made his "run" under a blind-
ing summer sun, or in rain or hail or snow, follow-
ing the finger of the compass wherever it might lead.
Yet I had learned also of the intense fascina-
tion the experience held for those who made good
and stuck. The very difficulties, the obstacles that
arose each day in varied guise, once they came to
be looked upon as part of the game, seemed but to
whet the appetite of the cruiser for successful per-
formance. The wholesome life in the open, too,
eventually hammered the members of a party into a
buoyant fitness that was good to contemplate. And
then the financial phase was attractive. I had been
making both ends just about meet on the ranger dis-
trict where I was stationed. There would be no
chance for a higher salary until fall brought the
Civil Service examination for Assistant Forest
Ranger. By contrast, the certainty of six months'
THE RECONNAISSANCE PARTY 3
work with practically no expenses, looked good, — if
I could hold down the job. As for that, I felt
sure that Frazer, whom I knew well, was respon-
sible for this opportunity to join his party and I
reflected that certainly he would not have suggested
it unless he considered me capable of doing the work.
The upshot was that a prompt acceptance, instead
of the refusal at first contemplated, went to the Su-
pervisor. Two weeks later, on the last day of April,
I reached Silver City and reported for duty.
The others of the party, with a single exception,
were already assembled, gathered together from the
four quarters of the Forest Service world.
There was first of all Frazer, the Chief of Party.
He was a deceptively delicate looking youth with
a slender frame that held the strength and tough-
ness of steel wire, and an ingenuous, boyish face
which belied his lifelong experience in the open
West, among men of all sorts and conditions, in
circumstances of ever-varying colour. Five years'
work in the Forest Service had won for him the
reputation of being one of the best field men in the
There was Wallace, a Forest Assistant fresh from
Yale, with a plethora of theories and no experience
to speak of. Fortunately, however — unlike some of
his fellow technical men, just graduated — he realised
that his education was not entirely complete, that
there are some facts in the science of forestry which
can be learned better by actual timber work than
4 THE LOO OF A TIMBER CRUISER
from books. And we were to find that he possessed
a capacity for work and a guileless sincerity that
endeared him before long to every one.
There was Bob Moak, a veteran timber cruiser,
whose twenty-eight years spent in the woods among
lumber camps from Maine to Oregon had made of
him a veritable giant of a man, long-limbed and
heavy-shouldered, taciturn and reserved, slow of
thought and speech, but mighty in action. He knew
the look of good timber better than his own fea-
tures, and though the touch of Time showed in his
bowed shoulders and grizzled hair, his experience
and woodsmanship made him still a most valuable
man for the party.
There was Conway, a former college athlete, now
a Forest Guard, and like myself, new to reconnais-
sance, but with a spare and sinewy build which
augured agility and endurance.
There was Bert Gilbert, the noted camp cook,
famous throughout New Mexico and Arizona for
his flapjacks and " slumgullion. ' ' He had just ar-
rived from Flagstaff with a gunnysack of personal
effects and a soul-gratifying "hangover" from a
recent dalliance with the Demon Rum. Bert, sad to
relate, was of that amiable type which finds in the
lure of a social glass with friends, and the diver-
sions of the city, temptations not to be resisted.
The desire to escape from the burden of this "good
fellowship" and so far as might be from his own
weakness, had first launched the cook, some years
THE RECONNAISSANCE PARTY 5
before, upon the practice of his profession. His
continuation in that career was undoubtedly due
to periodic lapses from sobriety whenever the out-
fit with which he happened to be working landed in
It was from one of these benders that Bert was
just now emerging, with shattered nerves and an
intense desire for the simple life. As is customary
and appropriate in such circumstances, he earnestly
proclaimed it his intention to turn over a new leaf
and make our trip a turning point, to use the op-
portunity afforded by a lengthy sojourn in the for-
est, far from the insidious highball and the ruinous
rattle of chips, to strengthen his purpose of forever-
more eschewing liquor and its evil cortege of kindred
vices. In his case, I'm glad to say, the threat of
reformation was not altogether an empty one al-
though, as will appear, there intervened between its
inception and its fulfilment certain circumstances of
a rather exciting nature which gave to Bert's de-
cision a virtue of permanence it might not otherwise
The one missing member of the party, Horace
Wetherby, was due to arrive on the noon train. We
all went down to meet him. All, that is, save Bert,
who decided to woo solitude and a new outlook in
his room at the Orient Hotel.
We were curious to see what Horace was like.
It is only natural to feel some anxiety about the
personnel of a group in which one expects to live
6 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
and work half a year, to wish to find out as quickly
as possible what each co-worker and companion is
like, whether he is to be looked upon as a "good
fellow" or a "grouch," a blessing or a pest. No
one knew much of Horace or his antecedents.
Frazer had, it is true, heard in a roundabout way
that the new man was experienced in cruising. But
in the matter of his personality we were wholly
The train drew in on time, a rare enough phenom-
enon, and we watched the passengers eagerly. Two
cowpunchers got off first. They had evidently been
to the city — Albuquerque or El Paso, most likely
— and were dressed in gala attire. Everything one
wore was duplicated by the other; they were alike
as a pair of spurs. Each, perhaps, had feared to
draw upon himself the ridicule of the other by dis-
playing any unique detail of town-bought finery.
Grinning sheepishly, they greeted a solemn group
of friends with formality and shook hands all round
in angular, pump-handle fashion. The new black
Stetsons, red neckties and polished boots seemed to
impart to their friends as well as to themselves an
uneasy self-consciousness, and by common consent
the crowd headed almost at once for the nearest
bar, to dissolve in drink the uncomfortable stiffness
of the reunion.
John Ferguson, a cowman, back from a month's
business trip, waved to us as he hastened toward
his wife, who sat behind a team of restive po-
THE RECONNAISSANCE PARTY 7
nies, welcoming her husband with shining eyes.
Three bored-looking travelling men of widely dis-
parate ages were alike only in that they wore derby
hats and walked with one accord quickly and un-
hesitatingly toward the stage where Big Sam, the
negro driver, obviously enjoying the brief but legit-
imate conspicuousness of his position, rubbed his
hands together and shouted at the top of his lungs :
"All abo'd fo' d' Palace — Palace Hotel dis-a-wa-
Last to descend, a tall well-built youth with a suit
case in one hand and a kit bag in the other, stepped
off the train and gazed leisurely about him. As
he caught sight of our party he set his baggage on
the platform and awaited our approach with great
composure. His air was assured, complacent even.
It took no psychologist to divine that Horace was
thoroughly at home with himself.
"The Forest Service boys, I presume," he ob-
served genially, as we came up. "I knew you in a
minute, and I am more than glad to meet you all."
The newcomer was not bashful, that was a cinch.
And if his manner had not indicated as much at
once, the fact would have become indubitably ap-
parent during the afternoon and evening of that
first day. His conversation made that certain. He
enlightened us at length in regard to himself and his
experiences in the West. We were curious, as I
have said, to learn something of Horace. By night
we knew all there was to be known.
8 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
He had never worked before in the Forest Serv-
ice ; but while he did not state this in so many words
we gathered from his confidences that he was not
only letter perfect, so to speak, in the role of cruiser,
but that anything relative to woods work or camp
life with which he was unfamiliar would have to be
a very rare, abstruse, and unimportant something
I don't mean to suggest that Wetherby boasted.
He was perfectly sincere. He just gave us the facts
about himself as he saw them, in all good faith, and
while Bert and Bob Moak considered his utter lack
of reticence on the subject of his own history actu-
ally unethical, and had no use for him from that
time forth, the rest of us were considerably im-
pressed by his revelations.
Frazer, in particular, made no effort to conceal
"Wetherby's got a lot of self-confidence," said
the chief that night, "but that's not a bad quality.
A few weeks in camp will tone him down, and any-
way, it's a secondary matter. As long as he's on
to his job we can forgive him the rest. I'm certainly
glad he's experienced. Did you notice his build?
He sure ought to make a cracker jack cruiser!"
This sentiment fairly expressed the opinion of the
majority and no one at the time attempted to dis-
pute its accuracy. We turned in with the comfort-
able conviction that we were, on the whole, a party
of rarely well-chosen and efficient young men.
NEXT day we set out by rail for Hillsboro, a cow
town at the foot of the Black Range some seventy-
eight miles from Silver City. This was our real
starting point, where Brown and Ewing, the pack-
ers, were to meet us with an outfit of twenty burros
and the two horses they needed for " wrangling. "
For a considerable part of our progress through the
mountains would be along narrow trails where
wagons are impracticable and where packing with
burros is by far the safest and cheapest method of
At the station in Silver City, just before starting,
an amusing but somewhat disquieting incident oc-
curred. We were busy getting our stuff on the train
— each man having a bed of three or four blankets
rolled in a sixteen foot "tarp" and a dufflebag full
of clothes, when Horace arrived and indicated a
formidable pile of bags and boxes as his contribu-
Frazer eyed the array aghast.
"What's all that?" he exclaimed.
"My outfit," replied Horace, with pardonable
10 THE LOO OF A TIMBER CRUISER
No one had thought of calling the attention of the
experienced camper to the elementary rule that each
man must limit his personal belongings to absolute
necessaries. The stuff he had brought would weigh
five hundred pounds. The chief thought there must
be some misunderstanding.
"Didn't I tell you we were packing with burros !"
he asked. "We can't afford to take over a hundred
pounds apiece I"
"Well," announced Horace, kindly but firmly,
"IVe been over my effects carefully, I may say
painstakingly, and I really don't feel that I can
spare any of the articles I have selected for the
Frazer stared for a brief moment at the bland
countenance before him, cast a wild glance at his
watch, and without another word dived into the dis-
play and began frantically to sort out and separate
from the mass those things which he conceived
necessary to their owner's continued existence.
An air mattress, a portable rubber bathtub, and
a case of dehydrated food went into the discard at
once, together with a large and miscellaneous as-
sortment of fishing tackle and sportsmen's clothes.
As these were augmented by a chest of medicine, a
cork helmet, and a neat little set of "Camper's Clas-
sics" bound in green morocco, the indignant Weth-
erby protested volubly.
Frazer ignored him until his task was finished.
Then he straightened up.
The Cruiser Climbs High Peaks
Or Descends Into Yawning Canyons
GETTING STAETED 11
" Those things there," he said, pointing to the
larger stock, "will go back to your hotel. These
here," and he indicated a forlorn little pile of bed-
ding and clothes, "will go in the train with us.
You'd better toss them on quickly, because we start
in three minutes."
He turned and clambered on the train, leaving
Horace to struggle with his repacking alone. This
was unwise, as it turned out later, for in the proc-
ess he managed to slip enough medicine, books, and
dehydrated vegetables into his bed to earn for him-
self the undying enmity of the packers and doubt-
less of the capable little burro whose lot it was to
carry the load through the fastnesses of the Black
The incident had the effect of casting a temporary
shadow over the bright impression Horace had
produced the day before. I noticed that, from time
to time, Frazer eyed his "cracker jack cruiser" dur-
ing the journey to Hillsboro with a puzzled, disap-
pointed look which held more of sorrow than of an-
We arrived at our destination the following after-
noon and were met at the station by Brown, whose
countenance was positively lugubrious.
"What's the matter?" queried Frazer sharply.
Brown's expression became, if anything, more
gloomy than before.
"He's on one," he remarked succinctly, jerking
12 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
his thumb backward in the general direction of the
Sample saloon, from which, despite the time of day,
issued unmistakable sounds of revelry. We began
to connect the missing packer, Ewing, with Brown's
despondent air, and started en masse for the scene
Frazer called a halt.
"You two fellows, " he said, to Brown and myself,
"come with me. The rest can get the stuff over to
the hotel and arrange for supper and rooms. We '11
stay here to-night. "
We found Ewing the centre of an admiring
throng of cowpunchers. He was seated on a table
in the centre of the bar room, very drunk, and
playing a violin with remarkable skill. Frazer
decided that there would be nothing gained by an
untimely interruption, so we joined the audience
and listened for an hour to as really excellent
a performance as I have ever heard. The music
ranged from popular airs to classical arias, from
the "Arkansas Traveller" to Dvorak's "Humor-
eske." The crowd was delighted; now silent, spell-
bound, now moved to the wildest enthusiasm. Ac-
customed to the squeak of a phonograph, or the
clumsy efforts of some local "fiddler" whose ambi-
tion ceased at "Listen to the Mockingbird," the
men were enthralled by this wonder.
"Been here a week and we never knowed he could
play a lick," shouted one husky cowman, regret-
fully, "that's what comes of a man keepin' sober!"
GETTING STARTED 13
"We sure ought to have a baile before he leaves,"
The idea met with instant approval. Eiders
leaped to waiting horses and left at a lope in all
directions to seek partners for the dance.
We seized upon the opportunity created by this
diversion to approach Ewing. The musician
greeted us quietly, lazily cordial. He appeared not
at all embarrassed by the circumstances of the meet-
ing. I was surprised at his nonchalance, surprised,
too, when he spoke, by the purity of his accent, be-
neath the veneer of cowboy slang, and the unmistak-
able hint of refinement in his features, marred and
dulled though they were by the ruthless hand of dis-
sipation. It was immediately apparent that the
packer was a man apart from his present fellows —
a " gentlemen ranker " to all appearances — at once
better and worse, but always different from the
rough, good-natured world in which he moved.
Though patently intoxicated now, he gave no of-
fensive evidence of his condition. His voice was low
and well modulated, his manners, though a little too
deliberate and exaggerated, were otherwise perfect.
Frazer, after complying with the formality of or-
dering drinks, diplomatically complimented the
musician upon his playing.
"I should think you could make a pretty good
living with your violin," he finished.
Ewing frowned. Then his countenance cleared
with startling suddenness.
14 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
"I could," he laughed. "I ought to be able to!
I've worked at it most all my life. But," he added
blandly, ignoring the question in our eyes, "I'd
rather earn my living as I do. . . . Let's have
another, what do you say?"
Frazer shrugged his shoulders. As we lined up
at the bar he said, casually, ".We move to-morrow,
you know, Ewing!"
"Yes, I know. I'll be on deck all'right. I've got
to play for the dance to-night; the boys expect it.
But I'll be on the job in the morning. Better come
on over this evening," he added, as we turned away,
"you and the rest. You might see some fun."
None of us, however, accepted the suggestion.
We decided to enjoy instead a last sleep "between
sheets." But we heard until late the shuffle and
stamp of feet, the shrill laughter of women, the
deeper, louder voices of the men, and through the
confused medley of sounds the singing of Swing's
magic violin, sweet, insistent, weaving its living
melody, making articulate in many tones the deter-
mined, fleeting joy of the dancers.
THE FIRST DAY'S WORK
BEFOKE starting out from Hillsboro we branded the
pack burros. They were all "broncs" caught wild
in the hills and quite unmanageable. The job, in
consequence, was fraught with a certain amount of
excitement. Since we were anxious to be on our
way, every one — including Ewing, who showed up
bright and early, apparently none the worse for his
"day of rest" — turned in and helped. But it was,
notwithstanding, a matter of considerable difficulty
to rope and hog-tie the score of restive jackasses
and to hold down each one in turn while the pack-
ers, who wielded the branding irons, seared a large
",IT. S." on the neck of the prostrate "jack" or
Wetherby, of us all, took the occasion most seri-
ously. He approached the conflict with a purpose-
ful mien worthy of a crusader, and expended a tre-
mendous amount of energy during the morning;
though his chief utility lay, after it was all over, in
having furnished us with a laugh that lingered in
our minds many a day. He elected in the beginning
to wield a rope, alleging familiarity with the art,
but the astute burros eluded his feverish casts with
16 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
careless ease, ducking perfunctorily whenever the
loop by any chance threatened to fall in the vicinity
of one of their, number. Whereat Horace would
carefully recoil his rope and swear mightily. He
was, he assured us, a "f earful blasphemer."
After a time the unsuccessful roper decided that
his methods were too precipitate. He selected an
inoffensive-looking jinny with drooping ears and be-
gan a policy of stealthy and insidiously slow ad-
vances. He stalked his victim, infinitely cautious,
until within a few yards, then with a yell of triumph
rushed upon her and holding the noose in both hands
dropped it over her head.
"I've got one! I've got one!" he shouted, much
as an angler hails the landing of a three-pound trout.
But instead of driving his captive to the fire he
attempted to lead it, a procedure to which the burro
is notoriously averse. There was a brief but fervid
tug of war. Horace and the jinny, a few feet apart,
glared into each other's eyes and strove fiercely.
It was indubitably a draw, since neither moved.
Wetherby, however, now thoroughly aroused, was
not to be denied. He looped his rope around the
burro's nose, shutting off her "wind,' ' and the strug-
gle began anew. Half suffocated, she advanced per-
force a few short steps; the rope slackened sud-
denly, and Horace stumbled and fell full length upon
his back. This manoeuvre, practically simultaneous
with the burro's forward movement, convinced the
alarmed youth that he was being attacked. He
THE FIRST DAY'S WORK 17
promptly released the rope and waved his legs
frantically in the general direction of the en-
emy, crying lustily: "Oh, the little Devil! Help!
We finally persuaded him that he was in no im-
mediate danger, and he allowed himself to be as-
sisted to his feet, none the worse for his harrowing
It was evident, however, that as a burro-puncher
Horace could not be considered an unqualified hit.
We were all greatly edified by the affair, with the ex-
ception of Frazer, who eyed Wetherby gloomily
enough. He was apparently approaching a state
of pessimism concerning his protege's complete ef-
In the afternoon we saddled and packed the
twenty burros with tents, beds, dufflebags and sup-
plies, weighing altogether over two thousand pounds.
It seemed marvellous that the little beasts could
stand up under their loads. We had yet to learn that
the burro, for its size, is the strongest, toughest and
most tireless of pack animals.
By the time our preparations were completed,
there was not over three hours of daylight left, but
by dint of pretty constant effort on the part of the
packers we drove our outfit eight miles to Kingston
and made camp before darkness fell.
During the trip we discovered that Brown and
Ewing had already found names for the burros.
Some of these appellations were amusingly; descrip-
18 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
tive of personal peculiarities, others had been seized
upon because of a fancied resemblance the animal
designated bore to some friend or acquaintance
of the boys* Thus "Miss May," a large, digni-
fied jinny, was so christened on account of a strik-
ing likeness, in port and expression, to the buxom
proprietress of a local restaurant. " Mallet Head,"
' ( Pepper, " " Curly, " " Bed, " " Beetle " and ' ' Methu-
salum," were so styled for various qualities or de-
fects which caught the fancy of the self-appointed
committee on titles. "Whitey," the jack, who
looked like an albino, was in the days that followed
far more often called by some other and less ele-
gant term than his given name. A persistently per-
verse ego, in which he gloried, was responsible for
more mislaid tempers, I think, than any other one
item in the catalogue of daily trials.
We found Kingston merely a melancholy collec-
tion of deserted buildings. Some of these were quite
evidently the ruins of rather imposing structures of
brick and stone. Across the front of the largest of
all, in faded letters, were the words "Board of
Trade." The place seemed inexpressibly lonesome
and cheerless, although in its day Kingston had been
a thriving mining camp of five thousand souls. But
with a drop in the price of silver and the closing of
the larger mines the city had been snuffed out like a
Now there were but three families living within
its limits — the Postmaster, an old miner who did
THE FIRST DAY'S WORK 19
assessment work on some of the claims, and Jack-
son, the Forest Ranger, who made the place his head-
quarters for administering the ranger district of
which he was in charge.
We stayed over a day to find an established sec-
tion corner and to frame a plan of campaign with
Jackson, who of course knew thoroughly the coun-
try we were to work. He was able on this account
to give Frazer information which later proved of
great value. For the region we were entering is
conceded to be as consistently rough a country as
can be found in the Southwest, and an accurate
knowledge of possible camp sites, springs, and trails
was a very necessary prerequisite to our actual in-
vasion of its strongholds.
The Black Range is physiographically a division
of the Arizona Highlands System. As such it ex-
tends a considerable distance north into the Datil
National Forest. But locally and for the purposes
of this chronicle the name is applied to that high
main ridge, with its timbered watersheds, which runs
due south from the Datil line forty miles to the
lower boundary of the Gila National Forest, where
it sinks gradually to the level of the surrounding
practically treeless country. The width of the tim-
ber bearing area varies from five to twenty miles,
so that we had to plan to cover a tract of some four
hundred square miles in the speediest and most
economical manner compatible with thoroughness.
The chief matter for decision was the course of a
20 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
baseline, for upon this would depend our route and
the manner in which we would approach and cruise
the various divisions of the range. This baseline,
we learned, was simply a surveyed line running from
the nearest established section corner to the camp
where we were to begin work. This accounted in
great part for our stop at Kingston, where the only
known corner for miles around was located. After
carrying the baseline to the first camp it would fol-
low the ridges or canyon bottoms — wherever the go-
ing was easiest — according to whatever plan Frazer
devised in regard to the general scheme of our work.
The baseline, Frazer said, would be plotted out on
township plats, carried for the purpose by the in-
strument man, each day as we went along. Since it
was to be tied in with the section corner at King-
ston it would — assuming accurate computation — en-
able us to ascertain our exact location as regards
section and township at any time, and all other work
would be carried on with reference to it as a guide.
The outfit used in carrying forward the baseline,
we found, consisted of a plane table, an alidade and
a stadia rod. The plane table was a flat, smooth
plane of wood an inch thick and about two feet
square, which screwed onto a heavy wooden tripod
with spike-tipped legs. The alidade, which when in
use was to be set upon the plane table instead of
upon a tripod of its own, turned out to be an instru-
ment like a telescope with several mysterious look-
ing little attachments in the form of thumbscrews
THE FIRST DAY'S WORK 21
and arcs with degrees measured off on them, and a
thin flat metal base about two inches wide and twelve
long. The stadia rod, which would be carried in ad-
vance, to sight upon through the telescope part of
the alidade, was just a long straight slab of light
wood an inch thick, four inches wide and twelve feet
long; with a strip of linoleum, painted across with
red stripes an inch apart and having black numbers
to mark the feet, tacked on one side.
Aided by a general map of the forest and Jack-
son's familiarity with conditions in his district,
Frazer succeeded at length in drawing up a sort of
baseline itinerary, subject of course to frequent
changes in the field as conditions should later dic-
tate ; though our immediate plans were fairly simple.
Kingston lies, as I think I said, at the foot of the
eastern slope of the Black Eange, some four miles
from the top of the range and about three quarters
of the way along the range from the Datil boundary.
So it was decided to work the short southern end of
the range first. The baseline Frazer proposed to
carry at once from where we were to the top of the
main ridge, straight away. Then south along the
top, while the cruisers worked east and west from it
until we reached the southern limit of timber.
There the proposed course swung westward in a
horseshoe curve and turning north again tapped
the timbered country on the west side of the range,
over the divide, until we got far enough north to
come abreast of our first camp west of Kingston.
22 THE LOO OF A TIMBER CRUISER
This having all been settled we started work next
morning. Jackson showed us the re-established cor-
ner near his station, where the baseline was to begin.
We all went along this first day to get an idea of how
the line was run, but the crew selected by the chief
for this department did most of the work.
The baseline crew consisted of three men. To
Wallace was assigned the unenviable position of in-
strument man. It would be his privilege, in addi-
tion to his regular duties of using the instruments
and making the necessary computations, to carry the
plane table and alidade all day on his shoulders, a
task irksome at best and in rough going an almost
intolerable burden. Nevertheless he subsequently
toted his unwieldy outfit well over a hundred
miles of baseline before the season ended, to say
nothing of the walks from camp to work and back;
and no one in all that time ever heard him register
so much as a whisper of complaint or self-sympathy.
Conway was chosen rodman. His duty was to go
ahead and set up his stadia for each "shot," as a
reading of the alidade was termed, on the spot he
thought would afford the best sight for the instru-
ment man. His post required a person of consider-
able discretion, according to Frazer, since the longer
and more direct each shot could be made the quicker
would be the progress of the work.
An axeman was needed to complete the "baseline
bunch," to blaze the line, set stations for cruisers
and cut out brush or small trees when this was
SAMPLE PLOT WORK
Wetherby holds the calipers
EASY GOING FOR THE BASELINE CREW
Wallace at the plane table, Brown blazing the line, Conway with
the stadia rod in the distance
.THE FIRST DAY'S WORK 23
necessary to give Wallace a better sight on the
stadia. Brown undertook to hold down this job
until the rest of us had been tried out as cruisers.
We watched the first shot of the season with in-
terest. Wallace set up the plane table directly over
the section corner Jackson showed us and fast-
ened a blank township plat on the table with thumb
tacks. He wrote the number of the township we
were in at the top and marked down in its proper lo-
cation on the sheet the section corner by which we
stood. We knew now where we were on the map as
well as on the ground.
From this point we were to trust Wallace. He
understood the system of township mapping and
surveying and as often as we would work over the
edge of any plat on the plane table with the baseline,
the sheet would be removed and the plat for the par-
ticular township we were about to enter would be
substituted. Thus at the end of the season, Frazer
told us, the course of the baseline would be repre-
sented by a zigzag line (each zig or zag a shot of the
instrument) running across township after town-
ship until the cruisers, working out from it, had cov-
ered the whole Black Range area.
It is well to state here that in properly surveyed
country, where all or most of the section corners are
established, this problem of a baseline need not have
bothered us at all, for in that case we could have
based our work on the survey, starting each day at
an established monument and "checking in" for ac-
24 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
curacy at each corner we passed throughout the day.
But though a part of the Black Kange country had
been surveyed sometime in the dim and distant past,
corners were scarce as hens' teeth, not worth look-
ing for, and a baseline was eminently necessary if
we were to know at all " where we were at."
To return to our first shot. When the plane table
was set up, the township plat tacked on, and the posi-
tion of our corner marked, Wallace carefully re-
moved the alidade from its case and set it on the
table. Then he placed a Forest Service regulation
compass on a corner of the table, its sides flush with
the two sides of the table that joined at the corner,
and fastened it in place with thumb tacks. He then
"orientated" the compass by turning the table, that
is, made the sights of the instrument point due east
so that the sides of the table faced squarely south,
north, east and west. The oblong metal base of the
alidade was placed so that the telescope of the in-
strument pointed northward, in the direction we
wished to go, and the rear right hand corner of the
base was set accurately at the point which marked
the section corner where we were at the time, — the
reason for which will appear presently.
Conway had in the meantime gone forward as far
as he could without being hidden by brush, trees,
rocks or the conformation of the ground. After
waving him into the field of the telescope by a set of
prearranged signals, Wallace then sighted at the
stadia rod through the lens, and by various manipu-
THE FIRST DAY'S WOBK 25
lations of the thumb screws and a few mild expres-
sions of self-exhortation, finally succeeded in fixing
the junction of the two cross hairs on the lens upon
a point on the rod. When he had noted down a few
figures he waved Conway to desist and the latter
thereupon marked the spot where the base of his
stadia had stood with a stone and sat down to rest
until we came up.
How he did it I don't know, for I'm not and never
hope to be a mathematician, but by consulting the
scale on the arcs of his instrument and a little leather
covered book of tables and formulae, and after mak-
ing sundry feverish calculations on a pad of scratch
paper, Wallace presently announced that we had
progressed (by shot) two hundred and three feet,
and that the elevation of our next set up — where
Conway was — would be eight feet higher than where
we stood. The alidade, it appeared, had the mys-
terious faculty of revealing both distance and in-
crease or decrease of elevation to the operator.
And this was not all. We were to see now the
reason for placing the corner of the base of the ali-
dade on the point on the township plat which repre-
sented our present location. With a finely marked
rule Wallace measured the distance of the shot,
changed to the scale of the plat, along the base of
the alidade and stuck a needle-pointed instrument
like an awl into the plat at a point corresponding to
the spot where Conway sat. Then he drew a pencil
along the paper, between the two points, using the
26 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
alidade base, which ran in a direction exactly paral-
lel to the sights of the instrument, as a guide, and
removed the instrument. There, as plain as lead
could make it, was our first shot — made, plotted, and
drawn. It wasn't a very long one, but it seemed
rather wonderful to us. We did nothing like this
that first day. Our progress all told, I believe, was
scarcely a mile. The campaign, though, was at last
under way, we were at work and learning, and every
one was cheerful, confident, and in the very best of
WE moved on the following day to the top of the
range. Our first camp was on the east side of Saw-
yer's Peak, a well-known local landmark. And
whereas at Kingston the elevation was 6,300, at camp
we made the altitude just 9,300 feet above sea level.
While the baseline was being brought up a couple
of days were devoted to " sample plots. " An area
(usually ten chains square) was measured off on
the ground with chain and compass, the diameter of
each tree thereon calipered, the timber in feet board
measure estimated from approved volume tables, the
reproduction tallied, and notes on miscellaneous
silvical data of interest recorded.
These sample acres, a welcome respite to the
cruiser, were afterward taken at intervals through-
out the season. The work was valuable not only for
the collection of silvical facts, but for the purpose of
checking the figures of individual estimators. By
comparing the appearance of the stand on such plots
with that found on his run a cruiser possessed a
standard for sizing up timber which tended to
greatly increase the accuracy of his estimates. Es-
pecially was this experience worth while to those of
28 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
us who were new to the work. We could scarcely
have undertaken to cruise without it.
And indeed, even experienced timber workers find
it necessary to get some such line on how the trees
run, in feet board measure, when they enter an un-
worked region. In the Black Eange the frequent
taking of sample plots was particularly necessary
on account of the constant variation in altitude and
the consequent change of species and quality and
amount of timber.
In general the best stands of Western Yellow Pine,
which is the chief, or technically the " dominant "
species of the forests of the Southwest, are usually
found at between 7,000 and 8,500 feet altitude,
though scattering trees grow in the canyons as low
as 6,000 feet and on slopes with a southern exposure
as high as 10,000 feet above sea level. But at these
higher levels, generally between 8,500 and 9,500 feet,
the dominant type is a composite of Douglas Fir and
Western Yellow Pine. Along creeks and on north
slopes one is apt to discover that Douglas Fir and
White Fir have crowded out the pine entirely, and
compose practically the whole stand in such places.
At 9,000 feet Engelmann Spruce appears, and above
9,500 feet this species predominates, with perhaps
a smaller stand of Alpine or Cork Bark Fir present
as a secondary species.
Since our work in the Black Eange took us during
the season through altitudes varying from 6,000 to
over 10,000 feet we encountered at one time or an-
SAWYER'S PEAK 29
other each of these varieties of timber and every type
of condition and site quality, and a known basis,
continually re-established, for computing timber
values was practically indispensable. Whenever we
moved, therefore, from one locality to another, we
took these sample plots as an almost invariable pre-
liminary to actual cruising.
At our Sawyer's Peak camp we arranged the mat-
ter of tent-mates, for the seven by nine sleeping
tents that we carried were each easily large enough
for two. Frazer and Bob Moak, who had worked to-
gether before, elected to renew old-time relations
and bunk together. Brown and Ewing naturally
gravitated to the same tent; Bert slumbered in soli-
tary state under the big fourteen by sixteen cook
tent, and Conway and myself undertook to share a
"canvas cave" for the season. This left Horace for
Wallace, who did not seem overcome by the honour,
but he accepted the situation sans argument, with
customary good nature.
Once settled, our tents set and ditched, we exam-
ined the surrounding country with considerable in-
terest, for cruising was imminent. We would have
much preferred to start in on easy country but the
prospect of "pickings" appeared slim. From camp
we could see for miles in every direction. The view
to the eastward, from Sawyer's Peak, was superb
— or "fierce," according to what one sought. Yet
though we examined it through eyes prejudiced in
favour of gently rolling slopes and shallow draws, we
30 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
could not but admire the gigantic abandon with which
the tall cliffs broke away in ragged bluffs and ridges
of rim rock, the sweep of the towering timbered
ridges, the sinister depth of great yawning canyons,
haunts of the grizzly and the mountain lion.
I remember one evening especially v/hen this
matchless panorama produced an impression upon
me that still remains vivid and undimmed, with all
the wild grandeur of outline and delicacy of colour-
ing that made the original unique in my experience.
Frazer and I had strolled out to Lookout Ledge,
a little rocky point near camp, just at sunset. The
broad forest falling downward and away before us
stretched grandly, a mass of moving green, to the
timber line. Beyond, rolling yellow hills tumbled
and sprawled, lower and ever lower, till they melted
into a velvet plain with the tiny silver vein of the
Eio Grande winding across like an attenuated, shin-
ing snake. Further yet, beyond other plains, faintly
visible, rose the uneven, misty line of the San Mateo
mountains, fifty miles away as the crow flies. The
sky and the air were alive with a warm, marvellous
afterglow. It subdued the harsher features of the
scene, touched the hills and valleys with wonderfully
soft pastel shades, and made the wavering outline of
the far-off range throb and glow with magical
opalescent hues, like the Mountains of Dream.
I had been completely lost in this vision, when Fra-
zer 's voice brought me back with a jerk.
SAWYER'S PEAK 31
''We've got our work cut out for us here," lie re-
marked casually. "Look at that canyon down there.
Isn't it a corker 1"
My exalted mood vanished as completely as died
the light on the distant peaks. I gazed on the scene
with new eyes. The spectacle that a moment before
had been inspiring, full of a vague, beautiful prom-
ise, was gone. In its place loomed a land of menace
and mystery. The darkening hills seemed to frown
ominously, the forest, gloomy and vast, to hold dire
threats, the rocky canyons to hide dark secrets,
grimly guarded from profanation by man. For a
moment a feeling of awe akin to fear swept over me.
I felt small and quite insignificant. For the first
and only time during the season I wished heartily
that I were well out of the whole business.
Frazer glanced at me and laughed.
"Don't get scared," he said; "you'll live through
it. Everybody who starts on reconnaissance over-
estimates the difficulties. You mustn't let your im-
agination run away with you. One thing above all
you've got to remember: don't let any little bit of
striking scenery get your goat 'til you come to it.
You'll often see ahead what appears to be a straight-
away cliff, but when you get there it may turn out
to be an easy slope. Besides, if you can't manage to
get over a bluff or peak you can offset a few chains
and go round it."
This sounded all right but I didn't feel much bet-
32 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISER
ter. I was simply in a funk, that was all there was
"Is there much of it like this?" I inquired feebly.
"Well," replied Frazer, with chilling cheerful-
ness, "the Black Eange, as a whole, is considered
about the roughest country in the District. I've
been over a good deal of it in a preliminary survey
and, while some places are better than this, some
are worse. The Animas Canyon region, for in-
stance, is a fright. But just forget about the fu-
ture! It's not here yet. Take each day and each
run and each chain that you pace as it comes, and
you'll find it will all work out. You'll have to get
on to pacing and sketching contours first. That will
keep your mind busy for the time being. To-morrow
we'll try a run. Bob and Wetherby have cruised
before, so they can work alone, and I'll take you out
with me. It will be the easiest way for you to get
on to what you need. You won't have any trouble
learning. Take my word for it, in a few weeks
you'll look back at to-night and laugh at yourself!"
"I hope so," I answered, and tried to speak con-
vincingly, though the strength that conviction gives
to words was, I fear, wholly lacking.
WHEN Horace emerged from his tent in the morn-
ing his appearance caused something of a sensa-
tion. The veriest tyro in reconnaissance knows that
lightness of apparel and accoutrement is the first
care of the cruiser. Frazer, for example, besides his
instrument and notebook, wore simply, shoes and
socks, hat, shirt, and overalls. Some of the men car-
ried a canteen and revolver as well. But Wetherby
was a picture in khaki riding breeches and knee
boots, waterproof hat and heavy shooting coat.
Around his waist was a huge cartridge belt filled
with ammunition. ,To this were hung two wicked-
looking Colt army revolvers and a hunting knife.
The capacious pockets of his coat bulged with medi-
cine, bandages, and condensed food. A canteen was
slung under each arm and a rolled poncho tied across
his back, though the rainy season was a month away.
Frazer stared a moment, dumbfounded. Then a
hopeless look came over his face and he said mildly :
"Aren't you giving away a trifle too much weight,
"Oh, no!" Horace assured him. "In Colorado
34: THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
I've often carried double this amount. I'm very
Nothing further was said, and the tall cruiser
strode off with the rest of us to our stations.
These cruising stations, indicated by a monument
of stones and a witness blaze on a nearby tree, on
which the number of the station and the elevation
are inscribed, were set every twenty chains along
the baseline, beginning ten chains from the first sec-
tion corner. Thus the cruiser, starting at a given
station and running at approximately right angles
to the baseline, in cardinal directions, travelled
through the middle of a tier of " forties," or forty-
acre section subdivisions. The forty is the unit for
timber estimates; and by mapping and estimating
for ten chains on either side of his course as he ad-
vanced, a man covered a forty-acre tract as often as
he paced a quarter of a mile ahead.
At the end of the outward trip he would offset
twenty chains from this line, in a direction parallel
to the baseline, and cruise back through the adjoin-
ing tier of forties, checking in at the station beyond
the one from which he started. Each run, there-
fore, disposed of a strip of country ha'lf a mile wide
and as long as the character of the running per-
On the day of which I speak Bob Moak ran out
from stations one and two, Horace took three and
four, while Frazer and I went on to station five,
where our work began. All were east runs.
We had taken full cruiser's equipment : 'A Forest
Service standard compass, "Jacob's staff," aneroid
barometer and notebook; and our first move upon
reaching our station was to set the aneroids at the
elevation recorded there, ninety-two hundred feet.
Then, as we rested a few moments before starting
out, we discussed the details of the run.
I had learned by now something of the general
character and methods of our work. I knew that
reconnaissance was a sort of forest stock-taking — a
gathering and tabulation of the resources of the
forest. The timber estimates of the cruisers, the
topographical maps, and the silvical data compiled
by our party, for example, would serve as a guide
to the Supervisor in planning and carrying through
future timber sales in the Black Eange. And when
all the timberland on the Gila had been cruised, the
mass of information collected would form the basis
for a Forest Working Plan outlining the policy of
management — the methods of administration advis-
able in the light of the facts reconnaissance might
discover and submit.
This much I knew. The process of collecting the
necessary data — the actual work of cruising — was
Greek to me. And now my initiation in that phase
of the subject began.
Frazer handed me a little oilcloth-bound book
which just fitted in the hip pocket of my overalls.
"Here's your field notebook," he said.
On every lefthand page there was printed a sec-
36 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
tion plat, four by four inches, ruled into sixteen
squares representing forty acres each. At the top
of the page space was given to note the number of
the range, township, and section, the name of the
watershed, the date, and the initials of the cruiser.
On the righthand sheet was the form in which tim-
ber estimates were set down — sixteen squares cor-
responding to the forties of the section plat whereon
the map was to be made. Below, at the bottom,
across both pages, a place was left for a description
of the whole section; the character of the surface
and soil, rock and ground cover, the condition of the
range for cattle or sheep; the logging possibilities;
the species, quality and condition of the timber; the
extent of burned-over area, if any ; and other miscel-
laneous information of silvical interest.
"Your map," continued Frazer, when I had fin-
ished examining the notebook, "must be drawn in
hundred-foot contours — one at every hundred feet
as you go up or down. The elevation is found, of
course, by your aneroid. You indicate also trails,
roads, fences, houses and similar features whenever
they occur, by the symbols in the forest atlas.
You'll just have to learn them as you go along —
they're easy enough. Your contours will give you
some trouble, though, at first. About the best way
of judging how they should run is to imagine that a
body of water has risen to the elevation at which
you stand. The shore line of such a sea, seen for
ten chains on each side of you, would mark the
course of the contour used to express that eleva-
tion as it extends through the forty which you are
mapping. You've got to always remember that a
forty is twenty chains square, and get used to the
scale of your map. Note how a chain, or five or ten
chains look, when you draw them to scale.
"As for the question of estimates, that, like pac-
ing, is a matter of practice. Your figures will all be
made on this job from an ocular estimate. You've
got an idea from our sample plot work what timber
looks like when it runs a thousand, two thousand, or
whatever number of feet it does run, to the acre.
As you go through each forty you've got to judge
the average run for each species in feet board meas-
ure and set it down in its proper place in your note-
book. The same holds good as regards the descrip-
tion, only that's made out for the whole section in-
stead of just the forty.
"But don't expect to learn it all to-day. It will
be some time before you get the hang of it. It's
just like other lines of work. The only way to learn,
once you know what you're trying to do, is to get
out and do it!"
With this he stuck his iron-shod? Jacob's staff in
the ground, set up his compass atop with the sights
set due East, and off we started. Our course
took us almost straight downward for some four
hundred feet to a wooded draw in the bottom of the
first canyon. Then up again over a ridge a little
lower than the main one. Then down again, then
38 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
up. The going was hard and our wind as yet none
of the best, but we took things easy.
I found pacing the hardest problem to solve. All
reconnaissance work is done on the basis of dis-
tance as measured by the cruiser's steps, and in
mountainous country this is no easy job. Every
one, in beginning, has to discover how many of his
paces will carry him sixty-six feet, or a chain — the
unit of measurement — -and how much to allow when
travelling up or down grades of various degrees of
steepness, since of course only the horizontal or air
line distance is considered. At first I couldn't get
it at all. And my map, despite Frazer's hints, was
hardly a thing of beauty. But before the day was
done I had learned what to do, if not how to do
it, and as the hours passed I found my timber esti-
mate and contours were approaching Frazer's some-
what more closely than in the beginning.
By noon we had paced out a mile and a half
through a tier of six forties. We found ourselves
in a wooded canyon through which ran a small
stream, so we improved the opportunity by halting
for lunch and a smoke.
This respite in the day's work is one of the
cruiser's most cherished privileges. Whether or
not the surroundings are as propitious as were ours
on this first day's run does not materially alter that
fact. Sometimes one stops on a brushy mountain
side or on the summit of a lofty pinnacle to stay the
faintness of hunger with his jam or jelly sandwich
or bar of chocolate, for lunch is always light. But
more often a seductive glade or shady brook will lure
the cruiser to his hour of leisure. Oblivious then of
the return run, the long miles to camp, he will sit
ruminating pleasantly while the quiet minutes float
away, <soothed by the ancient peace of the forest,
with only the murmuring of the stream or the chat-
ter of a squirrel or the song of birds to keep his
When Frazer and I started back we found the
westward journey much harder than the outward
trip. It was a steady climb all the way. At noon
the aneroid recorded an elevation of 8,200. When
we reached the baseline at half past four we found
that we had ascended to a height of 9,100 feet, a
climb of almost a quarter of a mile.
We checked in on station six. We were three
chains too far north and a chain east of the station
when we finished, fair pacing in rough country.
This checking in is always an interesting climax
to the day's work. In unsurveyed land it is the only
means a cruiser has of testing the accuracy of his
pacing. Of course compensating errors may some-
times cause a man to come much nearer his station
than the quality of his work warrants, but as a rule
the practice is a fairly reliable criterion of the
cruiser's proficiency in measuring distance.
We rested a short time before starting for camp.
I felt full of energy and vigour, far fresher than in
the morning, as if I could continue climbing moun-
40 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
tains indefinitely. I spoke of this to Frazer, who
"That's a pretty good sign youVe done enough.
You're drawing on your nerves when you feel so
light and airy. Every one gets that way after he's
caught his second wind and is thoroughly warmed
up. But don't let that fictitious feeling of strength
fool you into overdoing. You can tell when you've
gone far enough when you've had a little more ex-
perience in after effects."
If I had taken this advice to heart instead of let-
ting it go in one ear and out of the other I might
have avoided, a little later, a very unpleasant expe-
"We got to camp at five o'clock, just in time for
supper. Horace had not yet arrived. Nor did he
show up till after seven, when we were thinking of
sending out a search party for him. When he
finally appeared he walked slowly and heavily, as if
in the last stages of exhaustion.
"The altitude got me," he gasped, as he ap-
proached, "I've never been affected this way be-
He disappeared into his tent and groaned dis-
mally at intervals.
Shortly afterward Frazer called me to one side.
"Look at this," he exclaimed disgustedly, thrust-
ing Horace's notebook into my hand. It was a fear-
ful and wonderful creation that Wetherby offered
as a map. Even I could see that the meaningless
lines, wandering over the page in reckless fashion,
produced nothing but what map men call "impos-
"It doesn't look very encouraging," I ventured.
"Encouraging!" snapped the chief, "it isn't
worth a damn! I don't believe Wetherby ever
cruised before in his life. He only ran out three
forties to-day and took twelve hours to do it! It's
"Now that I think of it," I said, "he never really
told us he'd done any actual timber work. Most of
his stories were rather vague in that respect, if you
"But he's got all the theories," shouted Frazer,
thoroughly exasperated, "he can tell you all about
it. He must have read up on the work before he
came on. It makes me sick!"
"What are you going to do about it?" I asked,
feeling vaguely that Frazer 's confidences boded me
no great good fortune.
"Well," he said, staring at me speculatively,
"there's only one thing to do — you'll have to get
busy and cruise regularly, as soon as you can learn
enough about it. I can't trust Wetherby on that
sort of work at all. I was going to put you on the
baseline with the axe, but Wetherby gets the job.
If he'll shed a part of that warehouse he carries
around he ought to be able at least to blaze trees."
So next day, after a mild "bawling out," which
Horace took with commendable meekness, he con-
42 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
sented to leave most of his excess weight in camp
and shoulder an axe on the baseline. Here he
showed to slightly better advantage. But the har-
assed expression which became habitual to the
countenances of Wallace and Conway, and the omi-
nous silence in which the baseline party filed into
camp evening after evening, led us to suspect, as
time wore on, that Wetherby's endeavours were not
resulting in a perfection of accomplishment.
UNDER the constant coaching of Frazer I was gradu-
ally broken in to cruising. The work was fatiguing,
particularly while one was growing accustomed to
the change in altitude, but presently this wore off
and I found that the daily run was becoming a fas-
cinating experience. The constant change of scene,
the magnificent views, the sense of exploration and
the occasional hazards encountered effectually pre-
cluded the possibility of failing interest. Each new
day brought forth its fresh adventures, so that the
time passed, for the most part, easily and with the
speed of thought.
There was, however, one phase of our work that
had not seemed in prospect especially disagreeable,
but which I found at first very difficult to get used
to. This was the necessity under which each cruiser
lay of working alone all day. Like most of us I
had all my life been with, or at least near, other
people every hour of the twenty-four. For weeks
now I left my companions each morning with a dis-
tinct distaste for revelling in my own company till
evening. There was an initial strangeness about
finding oneself utterly and entirely alone in the f or-
44 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
es-t, miles from camp, out of sight and out of hear-
ing of any human being, that was disgracefully like
fear. The situation called forth qualities which a
gregarious existence had well-nigh atrophied.
But Time, the master magician, calmed weakened
nerves and developed latent forces till new habits
were formed to fit the new circumstances. I felt,
day by day, that I was gaining in self-dependence
and poise. It was not necessary, after a while, to
lean on the personality of another, to find content-
ment only in the physical presence of one's fellows.
Nay, more! Before the season ended, I found
myself relying upon this daily spiritual bath of si-
lence. A strange serenity grew within me — a quiet
fostered by the constant close contact with nature.
The eternal peace of the dim-aisled forest, wistful
and brooding, lay like a chrism upon the soul. On
some lonely peak, dominating a world outspread
below, the spirit leapt forth and spread silver wings
to meet the glory of those majestic mountain soli-
Despite the fact that use bred in us a disregard
of the danger element in this individual cruising, a
considerable hazard remained. A loosened rock or
slippery tree trunk, an unseen crevice or crumbling
ledge — any one of a hundred mischances — could
easily cause an accident that might result seriously
indeed before one could be found and cared for. An
instance of just this sort of thing occurred before
we had been out a week, and, though soon forgotten,
MOAK'S ADVENTURE 45
gave some of us at the time considerable food for
thought. Bob Moak, as I have said, had the best of
the others of the party both in years and timber ex-
perience. He was, indeed, beginning to feel the
strain of too long-continued and excessive effort.
His hair was grey and scant; on his legs, from knee
to ankle, bunches of varicose veins stood out def orm-
ingly. He was growing old at fifty, the day of his
ultimate retirement not so many years away.
Though he would have fought at the suggestion,
the old cruiser found it increasingly difficult to make
his runs between dawn and dark. Some men, faced
by this dilemma, would have "cut corners" — sat on
some hill within sight of camp and "dreamed in"
the map contours and the timber estimates. There
have been instances, rare of course, of such a pro-
But Bob was not that breed. Sometimes he came
into camp as late as seven or eight at night, having
worked since six in the morning; but his maps were
always accurate, his estimates closer than those of
any other man in the outfit. Always on such oc-
casions, to save his pride, he made light of these late
homecomings, saying, perhaps, with a pathetic at-
tempt at jocularity, "Well, I shore overslept to-day.
Took a nap right after lunch and never woke
up till four o'clock. I'll have to git me an alarm
clock t' take along, I reckon."
One night he failed to show up at all. A search
was suggested late in the evening.
46 THE LOO OF A TIMBER CRUISER
"We might as well wait until morning now," de-
cided Frazer; "I don't think there's anything to
worry about. Bob's pretty careful. Probably he
got caught by darkness and thought he'd better lay
out over night. With a fire it isn't much of a hard-
So we postponed action till next day, when all of
us but the baseline crowd set out early to hunt for
the missing cruiser. Two parties were formed, one
to follow Bob's outward line, east from his first sta-
tion, the other to begin at the second station and
run out the line along which he should have made his
Frazer, Wallace and myself formed the second
party, which proved the more successful of the two,
for we found our man before we had gone a mile.
He was seated at the bottom of a rock slide, in a
little canyon, smoking his pipe and gazing with im-
mense disgust at his left leg, which was evidently out
Before we could question him in regard to his ac-
cident he removed the corncob pipe from his mouth
and inquired truculently, "Got any whiskey?"
We produced the flask brought for just such an
emergency and the injured man took a long drink,
wiped his lips on the back of his hand and said :
"Reckon you all think I'm goin' into my second
"How did it happen?" queried Frazer.
"I just natchelly slipped," replied Moak. "I
MOAK'S ADVENTUKE 47
was crossing this here rock slide, up the side th'
mountain a piece. She started down and I come
with her. That there's about how it happened.
When I picks myself out of the debriss I finds this
leg like she is now. Eeckon hit's strained a mite.
So I set here an' waited for you all. Lucky I landed
by a stream and had a plenty of tobacco with me, or
I might-a-tried to crawl in, an' that wouldn't-a-been
We made a crutch for Bob after a little and by
dint of much " boosting," and frequent rests, he
managed to make camp in a couple of hours.
But it was a week or more before he could use his
leg at all and some time longer before he cruised
The incident brought home to us the necessity of
constant watchfulness while alone in the hills. It
didn't take a very great stretch of imagination to
picture situations far worse than that into which
Bob had been thrust.
HORACE HAS AN ADVENTURE
HORACE, it was plain, however the others felt, highly
approved of his new position on the baseline. He
went at his task zestfully, bearing his axe aloft as if
it had been a sceptre, and attacking trees and brush
with a headlong fury that threatened annihilation to
the forest. What mattered it that the swath he
cleared through the woods was yards off the line, or
if he at times dwelt so long upon the beautifying
of a station monument that his companions were
half a mile ahead before he finished. Horace was
having a lovely time ; that was sufficient.
We wouldn't have minded this attitude — those of
us, that is, who were not working on the baseline —
if Horace had only kept his peculiar ideas to him-
self. But he displayed a sort of irritating air of
superiority about camp which irked us considerably.
Personal foibles which one can tolerate or dismiss
with a laugh in town assume entirely different pro-
portions in the woods. Conceit or egotism — any
trait, in fact, which tends to infringe upon another's
personality — acts with the cumulative force of drop-
ping water. Before long the most adamantine self-
control is worn away in the process.
HORACE HAS AN ADVENTURE 49
There was no doubt that Horace, when it came to
the sort of education derived from books, was, de-
spite his youth, by far the most learned individual
in the outfit. Our erudite friend's vocabulary asked
no odds of "Noah Webster, his Dictionary." And
his familiarity with almost every branch of theoreti-
cal knowledge was really astonishing. As a result
of these considerations, our talks around the camp
fire threatened at first to develop into a series of
monologues, with Wetherby taking on every occa-
sion the speaking part.
Now, this was not at all according to Hoyle. In
the woods the evening "pow-wow" is an ancient and
well established institution. Immemorial custom
prescribes the etiquette for such gatherings. Bert,
Bob Moak and the packers, for example, never spoke
except for the purpose of expressing an idea — and
then briefly. While not conducive to fluent conver-
sation, this practice usually enables each member of
a party to have his say, with perhaps some time left
to indulge in silent reflection. Then again, when a
person is speaking, it is considered proper to allow
him to finish without interruption, and even to pause
a moment — a delicate tribute to the weight of his
words — before replying.
Horace's methods were different. He talked for
the sake of talking, for exercise, for effect, for the
mere luxury of guiding a mellifluous flow of words
into the night. Now and again, when out of breath,
he paused, but if any one else attempted to voice an
50 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
idea or a sentiment he had no compunction whatever
about breaking in and continuing the thread of his
This sort of thing was unpleasant. We suggested
as much to Horace on various occasions, but with-
out apparent effect. It was evident that if we were
to enjoy our evenings at all some more radical action
must be taken. But no one felt like starting a real
fight. Quarrels in camp are about the last thing
to be desired ; resorted .to, if at all, only in an ex-
We felt, however, that in Horace's case there could
be but one result. And true enough before many
days the inevitable explosion occurred.
It came about this way. The constant wielding
of a four pound axe had made of Horace a mighty
trencherman. One evening, when he had twice made
the round of the table for supplies, a thought struck
"It appears to me," he suggested to Frazer, "that
Bert ought to wait on us and eat afterward. I've
always been accustomed to being waited upon."
Frazer stopped short in the act of swallowing and
stared at him to see if he were really in earnest.
Waiting on oneself at table is an invariable camp
usage in the Southwest. The cook, indeed, as the
most indispensable member of the party, holds a
position a little superior to that of the chief. He is
accorded marked consideration, treated with a
special and particular brand of courtesy, for upon
HORACE HAS AN ADVENTURE 51
his humour depends always the happiness, often the
health, of the whole party. Not the least of Bert's
excellencies were his even temper and his cheerful-
ness, where so many of his professional brethren are
moody, irritable or sulky. But he was not on this
account the less inclined to uphold the dignity of his
position, or to resent any attempt to "run it over
At Horace's heretical remark, therefore, our eyes
turned fearfully to the cook, who was eating outside
under a tree. He had not heard.
Then Conway, who particularly detested Horace,
perhaps because he saw more of him than any one
else, did a malicious thing.
"Why don't you call Bert's attention to the over-
sight?" he suggested.
Every member of the circle held his breath, while
Horace cleared his throat and called loftily:
It was a plain summons to attend, but Bert, who
had never admired Horace on general principles,
merely grunted "Hunh?" and went on eating.
His interlocutor, a little nettled, thereupon com-
manded the cook in well chosen terms to arise forth-
with and render him personal service in the matter
of supplying "spuds, spoonvittles and frijoles." It
took Bert a moment to resolve Horace's demand into
its simple elements but when he did the rapidity of
his actions made up for the tardiness of his mental
52 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
He leapt to his feet, seized a large soup ladle in
one hand and advancing in front of Horace shook
the other violently in his face.
" Ain't you able to wait on yourself, you big
stiff V9 he yelled in a frenzy of rage. "D'you take
me for a wet nurse, stannin' round f eedin'
you! I'm a great mind to knock the top of your
head off, right now, and see what kind of a
fillin' you got in there. "
Horace was nonplussed but rallied gallantly.
"Now see here, my man," he retorted, in a voice
which he strove to render cold and steely, "have a
care. A certain person died once for less than you
It was an awfully feeble bluff. Bert had called
many more difficult in the games both of poker and
of life. That "my man" phrase seemed to get him,
too. Without a moment's hesitation he whacked
Horace over the head with the ladle and followed the
blow with as ably selected an assortment of profane
insult and invective as I, at least, had ever heard.
He charged him with ignorance, cowardice, immo-
rality, arson, burglary, and obtaining money under
false pretences. He referred to him directly andi
indirectly in so many different ways as a person un-
fit by birth, heredity, and education for association
with honest men, that we blushed involuntarily for
the offender and his presence in our midst.
Bert ceased only when exhausted. He glared
HORACE HAS AN ADVENTURE 53
fiercely at his wilted opponent. Horace was com-
' ' Bert," he said at length, in a conciliatory tone,
"I don't wish to have any trouble with you. But if
you're going to fly up like this all the time I don't
see how we can get along at all."
A general laugh ensued. The cook with an excla-
mation of disgust returned to his meal and the ex-
citement died gradually away.
ABOUND THE FIRE
THE last remnant of the awe Horace had at first in-
spired in us vanished with the "Episode of the Irate
Cook." The unexpressed antagonism toward him,
which had heretofore made his presence a constant
irritant, disappeared. He was looked upon hence-
forth as a joke, tolerated on the condition of com-
plete self-effacement, and squelched promptly and
openly whenever he appeared in danger of forget-
ting this tacit arrangement.
As a result our nightly camp-fire confabs became
much more enjoyable gatherings. Those intimate
evenings stand out in memory as perhaps the pleas-
antest phase of the season's work.
Bygone camp-fire talks long past, how clearly, with
what a warmth of detail, do they recur in recol-
lection I I can see now, in my mind's eye, the very
scene — the camp and the familiar faces and the fire
burning lower and lower as the minutes pass.
Supper is finished, and a feeling of indolent peace
and contentment steals over us with the lighting of
pipes and the relaxation of tired limbs. Sitting on
logs or stretched full length on the ground before
the gleaming embers, we muse and talk; lazily argu-
ing, spinning yarns, dreaming dreams. The faces
ABOUND THE FIEE 55
flush or darken in the flickering light, there sounds
the slow, gentle drawl of a reminiscent voice, the
quick, hearty laughter at a point well made, a shaft
well driven, the " puff -puff " of pipes, the slowly ex-
pelled smoke, hovering a moment, caught up in the
column of the fire, languidly whirling and dissolv-
ing— incense to the spirit of fellowship, to the com-
munion of minds and hearts.
Now old Bob Moak is talking, in his slow, deliber-
ate way. With crude, broad strokes he pictures to
us life as it was in his youth in the Northwest, among
the lumber camps. Tales of wild men and wild
lives with the sombre background of the fateful,
illimitable forest. There is little eloquence, no at-
tempt at theatricals or pose. Yet often one shud-
ders involuntarily at the stark brutality of the inci-
dents related and thrills with the pathos and heroism
of some awkwardly developed story of naked cruelty,
of magnanimity, of high courage.
Now Brown, the Texan, deplores the passing of
the good old days when the whole West was a cattle
range, when men lived largely and without restraint.
In a high nasal voice he sings interminable cowboy
ballads of " Black Jack Davy," of "Little Joe the
Wrangler" and of others whose names and fates I
Now Frazer tells of the Forest Service, of his
adventures in divers states, or of early struggles, not
so many years ago, to enforce the .Government's
regulations on range and in forest.
56 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
It was curious to note, as each one's individual at-
titude was revealed, how variously the facts and
phenomena of life were interpreted. Bob and Bert
and Brown were frankly materialists. A lifetime of
labour, a constant struggle with men and circum-
stances, had dealt them the strength and limitations
of their type. Courage, energy, self-reliance — these
they possessed to an admirable degree. But be-
yond the world of obvious things, into the realm of
the abstract or the spiritual, they had no conscious
desire to penetrate. Of such matters they would
not even argue, but remained indifferent if those
subjects were broached, smilingly intrenched behind
the seeming invulnerability of sense experience.
Horace, when permitted, gave us the conventional
theories concerning any subject upon the tapis. But
his ideas were so obviously second-hand, mere re-
productions of the thoughts of others, that we made
use of his knowledge more as a matter of reference
or as a basis for argument than for any intrinsic
value it might possess.
Wallace and Ewing seldom joined in the talk.
Wallace was far more interested in a girl back East
than in any entertainment we could offer. All his
time outside working hours was devoted to a silent
contemplation of her excellencies. [We never looked
for much from him, therefore, save a smiling, ab-
sent-minded acquiescence whenever directly ap-
Nor did Ewing enter extensively into any of our
ABOUND THE FIRE 57
discussions. His personality and attitude had
piqued my curiosity more than once. Indeed, the
non-committal youth with the sensitive features and
the punctilious manners was a mystery to all. His
past was unknown. His very name, rumour whis-
pered, was assumed. But this is not uncommon in
New Mexico, even in our effete generation and it is
not considered the part of wisdom to remark upon
any such eccentricity.
Since his departure from Hillsboro the packer-
musician had appeared distrait and ill at ease, at
times dejected and at times restless and nervous.
We thought perhaps that he felt uneasy without his
violin, which, to our disappointment, he had in-
sisted on leaving behind. Brown, however, main-
tained that his partner " missed his licker," and that
it was only a question of days before he would be im-
pelled by his inner craving to go "on one" again.
EWING 'S STORY
As time passed speculation on our part concerning
Ewing increased rather than diminished. The
packer was without doubt a mystery. His face and
bearing, his manner and his diction, certain telltale
traits which stamped him as a man from another
sphere of life — things incongruous with his assumed
character and present occupation — whetted our curi-
osity and aroused an interest in his personality
which it was plain he by no means sought.
Twenty times a day I puzzled over the matter.
What rash act, what error, or what misfortune, had
brought Ewing to this pass: A burro puncher at
sixty dollars per month, and prone to frequent in-
That was it, perhaps — drink ! But then drinking,
until it becomes itself a disease, is so often merely
a symptom of some other, prior, deeper disturbance.
Ewing did not strike one as a dipsomaniac. He
seemed rather to make use of whiskey as a weapon
against the virus of ennui or against his own more
No, I decided, drink alone was not his bete noire.
[What then? Often I itched to question him, but the
E WING'S STORY 59
reserve of the even-voiced, impassive packer was in-
The chances are that I would have left the hills
no more enlightened in regard to the subject of my;
constant conjectures than when I began the season,
had it not been for an accident which had the effect
of at length unlocking the door of Swing's confi-
It happened this way. Coming in from a run one
afternoon I encountered the packer, who was out
hunting burros. We continued together, he riding
ahead and I following on foot along the narrow trail.
At one place the path wound along the edge of an
ugly cliff, some two hundred feet high. Here, as
luck would have it, we ran slap into a nest of yel-
This was bad enough in itself, but to make mat-
ters worse Swing's horse, frantic with pain, reared,
leaped, and pitched so violently that his rider, though
an expert horseman, had all he could do to keep
astride the maddened animal. Twice they swung
dangerously near the edge of the bluff and each time
Ewing brought his mount around and with quirt and
spur drove him from the abyss.
Again the ticklish manoeuvre was repeated, the
horse whirling, pivot-like, upon the very brink of
the precipice. This time he swerved too close to the
edge. As he turned, rearing, the soft rock beneath
his feet crumbled and gave; his hind quarters slid
slowly back and downward. I ,saw; the haunches
60 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
drop, the head, with staring, strained eyes, thrust
forward, the forefeet drumming wildly. My eyes
sought Ewing's face. It was calm and still as the
rocks about. He seemed in no way altered by the
extreme hazard of the moment, but sat leaning for-
ward, slightly to one side, talking to the struggling
horse beneath him.
"Easy, Bob," I heard him murmur, "don't get
foolish ! Easy, now, boy ! ' '
Then I came out of my daze. I jumped forward,
grabbed the roan's bridle and pulled with all my
strength. A heave, a quick, fierce scramble, and
horse and rider were safe. Ewing grinned cheer-
fully and patted his mount's neck.
"Much obliged," he nodded to me. "I sure
thought we were goners that time."
I was somewhat exasperated.
"You must be crazy! You could have jumped at
first. Why didn't you get off when you had a
chance? You might just as well be there at the bot-
tom as up here, except for a piece of good luck."
"Luck I" he laughed whimsically. "Well, per-
haps it was. I've always had plenty of good luck
—of that sort!"
The cynicism of his remark was unmistakable.
"If that's the way you look at it," I said, "you
can drop off and be smashed next time. I wish I'd
known you wanted to commit suicide!"
His singular humour left my companion abruptly.
His voice grew grave, with a winning sincerity.
EWING 'S STORY 61
" Don't mind my foolishness, please !" he said.
"Really, I'm more than grateful for what you did.
You saved my life, I think. If there were any pos-
sible way I could show my gratitude I'd be only too
glad to do so."
"You might tell me," I said, on the impulse of
the moment, "what you meant just now by that re-
mark about your luck?"
Ewing glanced at me sharply.
"That's a matter which I don't care to talk
"Oh, very well!" I answered, and that was all.
We were rather silent for the rest of the journey
to camp nor did either of us refer again to the topic
so summarily dismissed.
But after supper, as I sat alone in front of my
tent, the violinist crossed over and flung himself on
the ground beside me.
"I was a little short this afternoon," he began,
"and I'm sorry I spoke as I did. I hope you're not
"Of course not!"
"Well, I'm glad of that. I often think I'm get-
ting morbid on certain subjects. Things have hap-
pened th'at — well — I thought you were trying to —
that you were getting curious."
"You were right," I interrupted. "I was curi-
ous about you, Ewing. To be frank, I can't see why
a man of your obvious education and talents should
62 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
be holding down the job you are. But my feeling
was a little more than mere inquisitiveness. It's
fairly evident that you must have had some hard
luck, and I suppose I wanted to find out what the
trouble was, and try to understand, if I could — and
perhaps help, if that was possible. That was what
was in my mind."
Ewing smoked in silence for a moment.
"Damn it!" he burst out, "there's no reason why
you shouldn't know. I'd like to tell you."
He talked for a long time, unconscious of the pass-
ing moments. Bit by bit the snarl of his unhappy
history was untangled. There was no smooth nar-
rative of events — just a halting, broken recital, stum-
bling in the darkness, through clenched teeth. A.
story as old as the world, but new to each whose life
Ewing was not his real name. His family is well-
known. As a boy, the packer said, his talent for
music was encouraged. He developed rapidly, and
so long as his skill did not pass the limits of a mere
accomplishment, the family was well content. But
when they understood that he meant mastery of the
violin to be his life's work objection arose. His
father cajoled and threatened. Dilettantism the
gentleman understood — it was a tenet of his creed.
Professionalism was tabooed.
It ended in the boy's leaving home abruptly with
the avowed purpose of making a living by his violin.
SWING'S STOEY 63
In this he succeeded after a fashion, and as time
passed he grew successful. A career seemed pos-
In the meantime he married. A mere girl, pretty,
unsophisticated, affectionate but utterly ignorant of
the responsibilities she was incurring — that was how.
Ewing described his wife. They never got on to-
gether after the first flush faded. They quarrelled
and made up and quarrelled again and then came,
suddenly, the demolition of their house of cards.
"I blame myself," said my companion, "I blame
myself more than Millie. She was used to atten-
tion. And I thought of nothing but my music — my-
self. One night I came in late — I'd played that
night — and found she had gone. She left a note —
a few words only. She'd met some one, she said,
who'd be kind to her.
"I took it pretty hard. I was half -mad, I think,
for a time. I forgot my violin, my career, every-
thing. I hit up the booze till I got to be a wreck.
I began to inquire around and finally located the
man my wife had run off with. He was a fellow
named Donohue, a broncho buster with one of the
Wild West outfits — sort of a tough proposition, from
all accounts. But he must have cared for Millie —
there wasn't any other reason for taking her away.
"Finally I started out to find them. I'd drink a
while, then work some; then whenever I found a
clue, I'd follow after. They found out about it and
Donohue deserted my wife. kThat made me glad.
64 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
I was glad she suffered — poor little girl ! . . . Well,
I found lier finally. . . . She'd died the night be-
fore I reached her. I buried her and swore on her
grave to find the blackguard that left her to die and
kill him. . . . And all the time I'd as good as mur-
dered her myself!"
Ewing stopped and bit on his pipestem till the
hard rubber snapped.
"Yes, I murdered her," he went on at length, in
a husky whisper. "It came to me after a time —
a long, hard time. And now — now I can't tell her ! ' '
"Perhaps, in some other life — "
"Oh, I've thought of that," broke in the packer.
"But some other life isn't this one — and it's in this
one I killed her, with my damned selfishness. No!
I've got to take my medicine, as she took hers and,
by God, as Donohue'll take his when I get him!"
He seemed on the verge of a breakdown.
"Have you had any trace of Donohue?'*' I asked.
"He's in the Rio Grande Valley somewhere, right
now," said Ewing, more quietly. "I don't know
where, but he's hiding somewhere. He knows I'll
get him. I was broke when this job came along, so I
took it for a grub stake. When I'm through. ..."
He shook himself and rose abruptly, and his old
"It's good of you to listen to all this," he said,
"and it's helped me. Some times I've thought I'd
go insane. It's helped a whole lot just telling some
one about it. I think I'll turn in."
EWING'S STORY 65
We shook hands and parted for the night. And
above us the wise, impassive stars gazed down as
they did in the beginning and smiled with shining
faces on the world below, impartially and unac-
A RECORD RUN
THE first camp at Sawyer's Peak sheltered us for
some little time. We ran the baseline five miles
north, cruising both east and west, then started
again at camp and began to work south. We finished
the Percha Creek watershed in a week, then moved
three miles to the head of Trujillo Canyon, which
runs in a southeasterly direction to the Eio Grande.
Then south again two miles to Tierra Blanca, an ex-
ceptionally rough watershed also draining to the
I had been cruising steadily during this time, since
that first run with Frazer, and was quite elated at
the comparative ease with which I picked up the
knack of pacing and plotting contours. I began to
feel myself a seasoned man. No run was too difficult
to undertake, no stretch of country impossible to
traverse. This state of mind was of course a result
of inexperience. And it was one day thoroughly
eradicated by an adventure which I recall even now
with particular distaste.
One morning we started east from the baseline
with instructions to run as far as the timber ex-
tended— that is, if we were able.
A RECORD KUN 67
The country was typical of the locality — rough,
brushy and precipitous. Four to six forties out
made a good average run.
As I left for my station Frazer called jokingly:
" Looks like you've got the post of honour to-day!
You ought to get some mean going. Get out as far
as you can, but don't overdo it!"
In my cocky mood this sounded very much like a
challenge to performance and I started out with the
firm intention of reaching the edge of timber if it
extended ten miles. As a matter of fact it was three
miles — twelve forties — before the pine petered out
and the woodland type began to appear. To get that
far I had dropped from 9,000 to 6,800 feet altitude,
and crossed several exceedingly steep ridges which
bounded the side canyons draining into Tierra
Blanca Canyon some thirty chains north.
When I finally surmounted the last ridge and saw
nothing beyond but scrubby pinon and juniper, it
was just noon. The sun seemed hotter than usual.
As I glanced at the aneroid and saw the three thou-
sand foot change in elevation the reason for the in-
crease of temperature was evident. My canteen
was dry and I decided to postpone lunch till later,
on the chance of striking water coming back. I felt
comparatively fresh, so that while the prospect of
the uphill climb home was not at all attractive, I had
no special misgivings as I began the return trip.
The first mile in was about as exasperating work
as could be imagined. I was running high up on
68 THE LOO OF A TIMBER CRUISER
the ridges, near the top of the divide between Tierra
Blanca and the watershed directly south. The east-
ern slopes, up which I made slow and painful head-
way, were thickly covered with oak brush and man-
zanita. In the knee-high grass grew cactus and
Mexican locust, the thorns of which rip through
clothes and flesh like tiny daggers.
It was necessary actually to fight one's way
through this mess, step by step. No care, however
great, served to avoid the brush and thorns. The
sun poured steadily down into the tangle. It seemed
to grow hotter and fiercer, moment by moment.
Perspiration, a dirty red from dust and blood, ran
in streams down my face and limbs. I began to
suffer from thirst. My mouth and throat were like
Pebbles held in the mouth and chewing tobacco,
recommended under such conditions, did not relieve
these sensations in the slightest degree.
I gradually became possessed of a dry rage, un-
reasoning and vindictive, with only the single idea
left to hold my line and reach the top of the next
ridge. Slipping, sliding, cursing, tearing the brush
aside with my hands, butting into it head first, fall-
ing, rising, crawling on all fours, I advanced slowly,
foot by foot, until at length I broke through a screen
of branches and emerged to the comparative open
of the summit. I dropped to the ground and lay
there, completely done.
When I thought of the two miles and more remain-
A EECOED RUN 69
ing my spirits sank. But at length I got my wind
again and started out more carefully than at first,
realising the folly of fighting the brush. The line
led downhill for a few hundred feet, a fairly easy
descent, across a dry creek bed and up the side of
the next ridge, higher by two hundred feet than the
last. It was a repetition of the previous climb, but
without leaving my line for more than a few yards
I took my time and picked the easiest route through
the dense cover. This saved clothing and person
somewhat but the strain of the continued effort, the
faintness from lack of food, and the effects of thirst,
which was now a nightmare, were having an effect.
At increasingly short intervals I was forced to stop
and rest. At first a brief halt was sufficient. But
as time went on each breathing spell was longer, each
start more difficult. I felt absurdly weak and dizzy.
My heart pounded violently on the least movement.
And underneath all other discomforts, surrounding
and overshadowing all, was the craving for water.
I had considered the possibility of offsetting to
Tierra Blanca. But I knew that this like most of
the other canyons was dry now, and the chances of
running on a spring were slim indeed. Besides, I
felt that if I left my line and went down into the
main canyon I would never be able to return and fin-
ish the run. And this I was determined, if possible,
So I kept on, making less and less headway, strug-
gling against exhaustion, against the reaction of the
70 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
heat, and against over-exertion. I recall very little
of the last mile. I remember vaguely reaching the
foot of the final ascent — the main ridge, along which
the baseline ran. Five hundred feet high towered
the tree clad slopes, steep and formidable. I sighted
my compass, took a few steps upward, and for the
first time in my life fell in a dead faint.
I must have been out of my head for a time. The
first thing I remember after my strength gave way
was coming out of a daze some distance from the
place where I had dropped unconscious. I was
stretched flat on the ground sucking water out of
holes the hoof-prints of range cattle had made in
the sandy bed of Tierra Blanca creek.
I sat up and looked around. It was dark, with
the stars shining cheerfully overhead. The air was
distinctly cold and I reflected dully that I had better
make a fire and prepare to spend the night where I
was. But I did not move. A feeling of utter re-
lief and peace lay upon me. To stop there and rest,
for days and days, was the only desire I had. The
little water I had managed to swallow, seep from
some hidden spring, must have been responsible for
Doubtless I would have yielded completely to
lethargy had not a pistol shot some distance away
startled me into a more energetic frame of mind.
I drew my automatic and answered. Soon I heard
a second shot and later still another sounded. They
were coming nearer and nearer. At intervals I fired
A EECOED EUN 71
in answer to the signals. Presently Brown's long,
shrill scream came echoing through the woods, and
a few moments afterward he and Frazer reached me.
They carried water and a flask of whiskey. I took
all of each that was good for me.
Then I briefly and rather shamefacedly related
the day's chapter of incidents.
"I'm sure glad nothing more serious happened,"
remarked Frazer shortly, when I had finished.
"We thought perhaps you might have been hurt.
For Heaven's sake don't get ambitious again. We
can't afford to lose any cruisers at this stage of the
Another swallow of water and a last pull at the
flask and I made shift to climb the ridge, by easy
stages. We reached camp at ten o'clock.
I fell asleep almost instantly, lay like a log till
morning and awoke able to do a light day's work.
But it was some time before I regained my normal
self-conceit, and still longer before the camp grew
tired of guying me on my "record run."
IT was at Tierra Blanca tliat we had our first ex-
perience with " varmints." For some time after we
set out those of us who were green had felt a little
nervous at night before falling asleep. The sensa-
tion wore off before long, but while it lasted it gave
us some unpleasant moments. The sight of ants,
centipedes or spiders disporting themselves on one 's
bed, the pattering feet of rats and chipmunks on the
tent roof, the thought of possible nocturnal incur-
sions of skunks, bob cats, snakes or tarantulas —
these things were beautifully calculated to render
one's slumbers uneasy.
Such a state of mind, unerringly perceived by the
seasoned woodsmen of the party, was played upon
skilfully, for their diversion. Hair stiffening sto-
ries were told of the danger of vicious midnight
marauders and dark hints dropped, from time to
time, of the perils of our situation.
"This here's a mighty likely place for vinegar-
ons," Bert would aver, sepulchrally, as we pitched
camp. "Them little ole things is shore pizen, too.
I knowed a feller onct — " and we would get the
blood chilling yarn delivered in the cook's best man-
Or Brown would come in some evening with a long
face and state, confidentially, "I seen the biggest
b'ar track to-night I seen in a month of years.
Seems like them b'ars is gittin' mighty bold here-
'bouts lately. I have hearn tell of one comin' plumb
into camp and jump in ' onto a feller. But I don't
hardly think they'd be likely to this time of year.
What do you reckon, Bert?"
"Dunno," Bert would reply, in a hushed voice,
shaking his head dubiously; "a feller can't never
tell no thin' 'bout them critters. They mought take
it into their heads to do anathin'."
As a matter of fact there was little danger from
anything but skunks. But of these pests even cow-
punchers and woodsmen, careless in the presence of
most perils, stand in deadly fear. For the skunk
will sometimes attack a sleeping camper and bite
any exposed part, usually the face, before the vic-
tim is aware of his approach. The danger lies, ac-
cording to local tradition, in the fact that the ani-
mals are occasionally hydrophobic, especially dur-
ing the dry season. Instances of a horrible death
resulting from their attacks are by no means rare.
And so prevalent in consequence is the dread of
them and so general the belief in their power to
infect one who is bitten, that the small spotted skunk
is invariably known locally as the "phoby-cat."
Brown and Bert were careful to hide their fear
of skunks as long as they could, but it was revealed
during our Tierra Blanca sojourn in a rather dra-
74 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
matic and, for the rest of us, highly diverting man-
We were sitting around the fire on the first even-
ing in our new camp. Brown, with a wink at Bert,
"Seems to me I smell somp'thin' pow'ful like a
phoby-cat. Don't you all notice it?"
Now as a matter of fact, though the inquiry was
made with no expectation of an affirmative answer,
at this precise moment a penetrating and unpleas-
ant odour recognisable at once as emanating from the
animal referred to and doubtless the result of our
dogs' researches nearby, did indeed pervade the air
Brown chuckled gleefully. His assault upon our
nerves was to be reinforced by a dash of extremely
"Reminds me of the night," he said, "when ole
Sam Saffel got skunk-bit."
"That was in ninety-five, wa'nt it?" asked Bert,
his faithful coadjutor.
" 'Bout then," said Brown judicially. "Let's see,
there was Slim Hitchcock, Hinray Betts, Sam an'
me. We was range-brandin' calves for the Gr. 0. S.
outfit over on Bear Creek.
"Come jest such an evenin' as this here, and we
all smelt skunk right after supper. Ole Sam was
pow'ful scairt of skunks and he wanted we should
take turns sett in' up all night watchin' for 'em. But
we laughs him plumb out of the notion 'twell bimeby
he give in and we crawled into bed and went to sleep.
" Didn't seem like mor'n five minutes afterward
when we was woke up by the worst screechin' you
ever hear. Ole Sam was settin' up in bed a-pullin'
a skunk off en one ear. An' he was shore hollerin'
lust-ly, as the feller says.
"Well, we kilt th' skunk an' didn't think no more
about it t'well about a week later when we wuz
hustlin' for town, havin' run might' nigh out of
chuck. All on a sudden Ole Sam took convulsions
and begin foamin' at th' mouth and we had to tie
him down out thar in th' woods an' leave him, seein'
as we couldn't very well take him along the way he
was actin' up. We shore hated to drop th' ole fel-
ler," lamented the narrator, sadly, "but they wa'nt
nothin' else to do."
"Good Lord," cried Conway, "you didn't leave
him to die that way, did you!"
"Naw," returned Brown, more dolefully than be-
fore, "we shot him afore we left."
"Tom Mestic got off luckier than Ole Sam," re-
marked the cook, after a short general silence, "the
time he got bit. ' '
"Don't seem's if I remember that," Brown came
" 'Twas a little before Sam died. We was camped
on the Seco. Tom an' me and Sam Morgan and Bill
Sanders didn't know there was any phoby-cats in
the neighbourhood till one night a skunk came into
camp an' bit Tom plumb through the upper lip
76 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
whilst he was sleeping. A-course he woke up right
away, an' so did the rest of us. We wa'nt right sure
th' skunk was a phoby-cat, seem' he got away, but
to be on the safe side Bill an' me helt Tom an' Sam
Morgan run a piece of red-hot bailin' wire thro' the
holes in his lip so's to clean 'em out good. He ain't
never had no trouble sence, only havin* t'wear a
moustache — which don't hardly compare for hard
luck with bein' dead."
This tale provoked argument, but Bert stoutly
maintained its truth. Indeed, I have since had oc-
casion to verify it.
While we talked, the penetrating, unpleasant odour
that was before barely noticeable had become
stronger. And this or something else woke me sev-
eral times during the early part of the night. I was
just dozing off after one of these wakeful spells
when a most extraordinary rumpus outside brought
me bolt upright and wide awake. Slipping on a pair
of moccasins I ran over to Brown's tent, from which
issued agonised cries, and was just in time to meet
the packer hastily emerging.
I thought for a moment he had lost his mind. He
seemed as far as I could make out to be trying with
his right arm to pull the left from its socket, pro-
claiming meanwhile in ear splitting tones that he
Frazer, Conway, Wallace and Wetherby appeared,
Horace in a high state of excitement, waving his two
Colts menacingly. But no skunk was to be seen.
4 < Whereabouts is he f Which way did he go ?" we
Brown, hjstead of answering, rubbed his eyes and
looked sheepishly about him. He seemed to be com-
ing slowly out of a daze.
" Doggone it," he ejaculated, at last, "I reckon
there wan't none. This yere arm of mine done gone
to sleep an' when I woke up dreamin' trouble and
felt it lyin' under me and smelt that there skunk
I shore thought my arm was bit."
We had "the edge" on Brown and were not loath
to take advantage of it. There was considerable
laughter at the packer's expense, in the midst of
which he retreated into his tent.
Then we began to wonder where Bert and Moak
were. We found them deep in their blankets with
tarps pulled over their heads. They pretended to
be asleep but the pretence was hardly convincing.
The real skunk, whose proximity no one doubted,
did not annoy us that night but a few evenings there-
after he entered the camp precincts, doubtless to
forage at the garbage hole, and was oddly enough
chased into Brown's tent by one of the dogs and
killed upon the packer's bed. For some days there-
after both bed and dog were deservedly unpopular.
As Frazer put it, after suffering for a day : * * I 've
heard of animals dying game; but that skunk died
* gamier' than anything I ever knew of."
We finally forgave him — Frazer, that is !
ROUNDING THE SOUTH END
FKOM Tierra Blanca we moved to Donahue Canyon,
our southernmost camping place, and a few miles
only from the Gila Forest boundary line. The range
dropped off quite sharply here. We were but little
higher, in fact, than we had been at Kingston. No
tents were erected. We had stopped near an old
cabin which would serve for shelter in case an unex-
pected storm came up, for the rainy season was due
to start at any time now.
The cabin belonged to a miner named McGee whose
present habitation was but a short distance off. He
came over after supper, ostensibly to borrow coffee,
in reality to talk.
"I'm glad to meet a bunch of guv'ment men," he
announced, after introducing himself. "Becuz I'm
for ye. There's them that's agin' the guv'ment an'
the National Forests an' the rangers, but ye '11 usu-
ally find it's becuz they can't inflooence ye to some
devilment, like they maybe could some private
pa-arty. Thin they raise a howl about conservation
bein' the ruination of th' country, starvin' out the
poor man an' drivin' capital away. That's humour
for ye. Drivin' poor timid capital away; capital
that's so scairt of takin' a chance it'll only commit
In moving from Donahue's Canyon we drove the burros along an
almost invisible trail
A halt for repairs. One of the packs slipped here and held up the
BOUNDING THE SOUTH END 79
every crime in th' calendar to make three per cent
intrust; capital, that don't care enny more for a
fightin' chance to earn a dividend than I do for me
lim 's. No, no, byes ! Capital '11 go anywhere there 's
a chanct to make money — a little thing like guv'ment
regulation won't drive capital away. But grafters,
that's another thing. Them that comes here like a
man would go to a bank an' say to the President:
'Here, you, I wanna be a director an' get let in on a
couple of hundred per cent profit for me money, or I
won't play,' — them fellers is scairt away jest like
the bank would scare them. What 'capital' like
that is lookin' for is a roulette wheel — an' it wants to
own the wheel.
" An' as fer the poor man," McGee went on, "he's
got a whole lot more chance on the National Forest
to-day than he has off en' it. Haven't I got twenty
and more mining claims here meself — an' no trouble
in gettin' any of thim. 'The rules is so an' so,' says
the Supervisor, 'the forests is to use, so long as not
abused,' says he, 'an first come first served,' he says.
If ye' want to build a road, or use water power, or
let y'r sheep or cattle run on th' forest, ye git y'r
permit an' pay y'r fee, an' there y' are. If ye
wanta take out a homestead claim, or a mining claim,
or cut wood or run a sawmill the way is simple to
folley. There's no running to a town meetin' or a
crooked offishul or a politician to make it easy for
ye to do somethin' ye ought not to be allowed to do
— for a consideration. Ye don't haf ' to bother with
80 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
th' politicians; that's what makes thim mad. An'
that's the reason they're hollerin' their heads off
about the turrible guv'ment regulations of Forests
an' how lovely t 'would be if the states had thim.
T 'would so — but fer the politicians and their fren's,
not fer you and me.
"An' much as they holler, an' much as they'd like
to git somethin' on the Forest Service, ye never
heard one av thim yet cha-a-rge any favrytism —
ye never heard thim say that any offishul of the serv-
ice give one man anathin' ahead of another, unless
he had a right to ut. ' '
We applauded McGee's speech heartily. Nor did
it take us by surprise. For among the actual users
of the Forest, the men earning their living by work-
ing for it, the general feeling now is that the Forest
Service administration is fair and just and in general
conducive of much better conditions for the small
man than the old laAssez faire policy of competition
and waste on range and in forest could ever be ; that
it would be a calamity to return to that condition and
that it would be a regime only a little, if any, less
disastrous if the forests were to be put into the
control of the various states. For that would mean,
in too many cases, into the hands of the state bosses.
Before we left this camp the old miner bestowed
upon us a wealth of facts regarding the mineral re-
sources of the Black Eange. He was optimistic as
to future prospects. He showed us samples of ore
that looked good, and seemed to think that it would
BOUNDING THE SOUTH END 81
be only a brief period before he could interest
moneyed men in his schemes for development.
From Donahue Creek we turned westward and
made a move of six miles across the divide to Gal-
linas Creek, one of the larger streams flowing south-
west into the Mimbres.
On this move we gained some valuable experience
in burro punching. The packers had been obliged
to make a trip to Hillsboro with part of the outfit
and were not yet returned. So the rest of us
wrangled the "wild asses, " as Brown called them, on
moving day, and after a little longer time than usual
got them packed and under way.
Bob Moak, Frazer and Bert did most of the actual
work. The rest of us, I'm afraid, were more in the
way than otherwise at this time, though before the
season ended we became fairly proficient in the art
Horace amused us all by endeavouring to maintain
an attitude of thorough conversance with what was
going on, while continually falling into laughable
blunders. One of his mishaps will live. He was
busily engaged in helping to pack old Eed, uncon-
scious of the fact that Methusalum's tie rope had be-
come accidentally wrapped about his ankle. A few
seconds later he was jerked flat on his back by an
unexpected movement on Methusalum's part and had
to borrow one of the packer's horses for the trip.
I forget what he called his trouble but, as Ewing
said, the name deserved support.
82 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
For the first few miles of our trip we had good
going. The route lay along an excellent road cut in
the side of the mountain by an old mining concern
whose property has for years now been idle. We
were congratulating ourselves on this good luck
when the highway stopped abruptly at El Centro, a
group of empty shacks marking the site of the former
mining camp, and an almost invisible trail led us
from there through two miles of thick oak brush and
Our untutored pack animals immediately scattered
in all directions like a covey of quail. As soon as
one of them felt that he was out of sight he would
stop and stand silent and motionless until some one
of us found him and drove him back into line.
It meant a strenuous afternoon of rushing hither
and thither in the tough, scarcely penetrable cover,
looking for laggards, bringing up the recalcitrant,
counting the outfit over every few minutes and, if
they could not all be accounted for, starting out to
search once more.
But, like all things, our task came finally to an
end and we made our first Gallinas camp at sun-
down, with tired bodies and frayed feelings but with
none missing from the roll of jackasses.
We remained at this camp several days, making
long runs to the west and shorter ones eastward to
abut on our work of the preceding weeks.
Our next move but one took us to the head of Gal-
linas Creek, near the summit of Hillsboro Peak.
BOUNDING THE SOUTH END 83
This mountain rises to a height of over 10,000 feet,
and with the exception of Yellow jacket Peak, near
the northern boundary, is the highest point along
We were camped by Hillsboro Lake, a pretty pond
set in a most picturesque growth of aspen. The
camp was on a fire patrol trail along the main di-
vide and we were visited twice a day while there by
a fire guard on his way to and from the lookout sta-
tion on top of the Peak.
During his visits this guard, a young fellow from
Hillsboro named Eeid, explained to those of us who
were unfamiliar with it the Gila fire plan, of par-
ticular interest to us at this time inasmuch as we
were liable to be called upon to assist in fighting a
fire any time it got beyond the control of the regular
The system adopted by the Supervisor is ingenious
and effective. It contemplates, first of all, a special
force for the forest during the fire season (approxi-
mately from May 1 to July 1) consisting of three
patrol chiefs in charge of fire districts and fifteen
The Black Bange, designated as Fire District One,
is divided into six patrol divisions, each one in
charge of a fire guard. The lookouts, one to a di-
vision, are on Sawyer's Peak, Hillsboro Peak, Yel-
lowjacket Peak, Mimbres Head, Sheep Creek Peak
and Terry Peak. These lookouts are visited at
least once a day; in times of particular danger a
84 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
guard camps continually at the more important
Every station is provided, in addition to fire tools,
with a compass, a field glass, a fire map and a stand-
ard protractor. Also it is connected by telephone
with the Supervisor's office in Silver City.
When the fire guard spots a fire from the lookout
peak he at once reads its angle of direction from the
protractor. This he telephones to the Supervisor,
together with any other facts such as the apparent
size and character of the fire that he thinks impor-
tant. As soon as two or three direction readings
from different lookouts are received at Silver City,
the Supervisor proceeds to locate the fire by means
of the large fire map there. Every lookout station
shown on the map has a thread of silk attached to it
' by one end. This thread is drawn across the map in
the exact direction indicated by the angle sent in,
and the precise point at which two or more threads
cross indicates the location of the fire reported.
All arrangements for attacking the fire or fires
may thus be made at headquarters almost as soon
as they are discovered in the field, and a force of
men sent at once, if necessary, by the best and quick-
est route to the scene of action.
So efficacious is this system that no fire on the
Gila, Reid told us, had obtained over twenty-four
hours' headway, before being discovered, since the
fire plan was put in force. We were profoundly
BOUNDING THE SOUTH END 85
grateful for this fact and slept the better for a
knowledge of it. Had we been able to forecast the
immediate future we would have rested less easily,
perhaps, in our tents by Hillsboro Lake.
ALL went well until Saturday — the end of the first
week in our Hillsboro camp — when trouble broke
from a clear sky. We had finished a rather hard
day's work and were in the act of sitting down to
supper when the drumming of horse's hoofs came
to our ears. A moment later Reid, the fire guard, ap-
proached at a gallop and drew up just long enough
" Fire's broke out on the north slope of Hillsboro
Peak. It's got away from me. I've phoned for men
but they can't get here till morning, so you fellows '11
have to come up to-night. There's plenty of axes,
hoes and gunny sacks, but we'll need water. I'm
going back to do what I can till you get there.
Don't lose any time — every minute now may save
hours of work later ! ' '
Then, whirling about, he galloped off up the trail.
The hasty summons of the guard materially al-
tered our plans for the evening. Instead of a leis-
urely supper and a comfortable loaf about the fire,
with bed hovering pleasantly in the background, we
saw before us a long night of heart-breaking toil by
the red light of flames, a night such as haunts the
THE APPROACH OF THE FIRE
As seen at a distance, smoke from the burning brush filled the
air. Nothing else for a time could be seen
FIRE IN THE BRUSH
How the fire looked at close quarters as it worked forward to our
sleep of every Forest Service man during the dry
Those of us who had never fought fire in the woods
— Wallace, Wetherby, Conway and myself, were
much excited. We were anxious to meet this
dreaded opponent. Tales that we had heard, legends
of former conflagrations, buzzed in our brains.
The interest we felt in the impending struggle over-
came the fear of fatigue — the natural physical aver-
sion for the gruelling task ahead.
The older men, by contrast, were silent and seri-
ous. They knew what the call meant. They remem-
bered similar nights of toil with shovel or rake, wet
sack or pine limb flail, by back fire or cleared line,
long nights passed in a death struggle with the for-
ests' arch-enemy, sometimes conquering, crushing
the red terror into the blackness of death, sometimes
conquered, driven from the field by the fiery breath
of the onrushing flames. These veterans did not
lightly join issue again. Their gravity was impres-
sive, portentous; their silent, swift preparation in-
spired us with the feeling that our waiting foe was
worthy of our most earnest efforts, that no man
might with confidence foretell the outcome of the
There was no confusion, or hesitation, once the
warning came. The packers and the cook, detailed
to supply water to the fighters on the line, left at
once to round up the burros.
The rest of us started for the scene of action with-
88 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISER
out waiting to finish supper, merely stuffing our
pockets with what food came handiest. For fire
brooks no delay and the same, on such occasions, may
be said of Forest Supervisors.
A hike of three miles brought us to the edge of the
burning area, which appeared at this time to be one
hundred acres or more in extent. We saw at once
that we had to deal with what is technically termed a
" surf ace " fire, — that is, the fire fed chiefly on brush
and the young growth of pine, ground cover and fal-
len logs, the litter covering the soil — rather than like
"ground fire" actually getting a hold in the humus
and smouldering beneath the surface or like a
" crown fire" sweeping through the tops and
branches of the larger trees.
When we arrived the fire was climbing toward the
top of Hillsboro Peak driven by a mild breeze from
the north. There was a fairly dense cover here
which made good fuel. Also the fire was ascending
and would therefore naturally travel faster than
when working on a level or down hill. So the flames
leapt merrily upward, sparks flew before, and it was
obvious that nothing effective could be done to check
their advance until the bright line of destruction
reached the crest of the mountain and started down
the other side.
Reid joined us as soon as we came upon the scene.
He carried a long, steel shafted rake upon his shoul-
ders. He was dripping sweat and his face and
hands were blackened by smoke.
"Glad to see you," he grinned through this grimy
mask, "she's going strong, ain't she? About all we
can do now, I reckon, is get on top and cut a line.
Then fight her there, just as she starts to dip down
hill. There'll be a bunch out in the morning, but
the real work must be done to-night. If we can hold
her at the line till reinforcements come we'll win
So there began at once a three cornered race.
With shovel and axe and rake we worked heroically
to clear a fireline at the edge of the south slope of
Hillsboro Peak, in accordance with Eeid's directions,
before the line of fire should reach the position we
had chosen to fortify. And darkness, coming on
apace, promised for a time to beat us both.
But we won. When the light in the western sky
faded and the jack-in-the-box stars popped out, one
by one ; and when finally through the gathering dusk
we saw the ruddy flare of fire rise threateningly
above the line of the ridge, we were ready.
A line fifteen feet wide and four hundred yards
long, cleared to the dirt, lay along the top. Behind!
it, resting for a brief breath-winning spell, were the
fire fighters. Bakes and pine branches thickly pad-
ded with needles, shovels and wetted gunny sacks
(for the first load of water had arrived) lay ready to
hand. There needed nothing now to start the duel
but that the crawling foe, approaching nearer mo-
ment by moment, should reach us and assault our
position, It was the calm before the storm, the
90 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
pause, impressive in its mere inaction, that serves
to herald the imminent clashing of two gladiators
who neither ask nor give quarter.
There were seven of us there in all: Reid,
Frazer, Moak, Wallace, Wetherby, Conway and my-
self. This gave each of us approximately sixty
yards of fire line to protect, sixty yards of rock and
dirt across which no flame must win, no spark leap
and live, throughout the night.
At last the moment for action arrived. Here and
there tongues of fire, small wedges of burning brush,
the advance guard of the main body, broke from its
ragged front and sallied ahead in short, uneven
rushes, as if filled with a momentary confidence, a
presentiment of victory to come. But when these
scouting forces struck the cleared line they halted in
mid-career as a bullet stops at a wall of sand.
This was our moment. The leaping flames sank
abruptly to a slow creeping line of yellow, close to
the ground, and the heat, intolerable before, moder-
ated enough to permit of our approach. We leapt
forward and with swinging bough or dampened
gunny sack beat out the wavering line of fire.
At first it was easy. We were keyed to effort and
the burning spots along the fireline were yet few and
feeble. We had frequent opportunity to catch our
breath in the intervals, to rush for a moment back
from the line of battle and recover from each suffo-
cating swirl of smoke or blast of excessive heat.
But these chances became fewer and farther apart.
As the main fire reached us our attention was re-
quired not only at isolated spots but all along the
front. More and more we found ourselves fighting
a continuous line of flames, combating a hydra-
headed enemy. No sooner was the fire crushed in
one place than it broke out in a dozen others and we
rushed off to attack them one after another.
The battle was general. Hour succeeded wearing
hour. We hardly heeded the passage of time.
Bushing hither and thither through the clouds of
smoke, howling warnings and suggestions to one an-
other, running to the assistance of a hard pressed
comrade or calling for aid ourselves, we fought
through the hours of the night, looking in the un-
canny ruby glow for all the world like a crowd of
imps toiling to feed the furnaces of hell.
It is hard now to remember, to pick out special
scenes or incidents of that kaleidoscopic night. The
picture that recollection holds fast to is blurred and
smoke dimmed, just a confused, endless, ever shift-
ing succession of bright flames springing at us out
of the dark, a weary hand to hand battle with the
tireless enemy, a growing fatigue that ached and
throbbed like a prisoned spirit of evil and a joyful
underlying consciousness, leavening and lightening
all, that we were holding our own, that no hungry
shred of fire had passed our defences and penetrated
to the rich timbered region behind us.
We were on our feet in almost constant action till
morning. Bert and the packers, between trips for
92 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
water, offered time and again to relieve the men
along the line. Horace gave out finally and took
advantage of such a suggestion to swap jobs with
Ewing. Some time toward midnight Moak changed
places with Brown. But the rest of us, filled with
the enthusiasm of the game, refused to quit.
Morning at last brought an end to the long grind.
As the sun rose, bloody through the blackened air,
a far off yell of encouragement came gratefully to
our ears, with its cheering message of reinforce-
ments on the way. A little later a galloping line of
fire guards and cowpunchers swung up the trail and
dismounted. They had ridden all night, but after a
cup of hot coffee, which Bert prepared, joined ener-
getically in the fight.
The fire did not now long resist the combined ef-
forts of both parties. In a few hours it was sur-
rounded and so far under control that those of us
who most needed sleep could rest.
And we were ready to rest. From our sensations
at this time we did not see how it was humanly pos-
sible to keep the pace we had set much longer, but
instances are on record, on this same Gila National
forest, of men fighting fire continuously without
sleep or rest for thirty, forty-eight, and, in one in-
stance, for sixty-three solid hours.
When it was all over we were thankful for the
experience, but we desired no more. Here was the
one thing we had found that was harder work, while
it lasted, than reconnaissance.
THE RAINY SEASON
BY June we had worked north along the west side
until we reached a point level with Sawyer's Peak,
where we began. This completed the horseshoe
shaped southern portion of the baseline from which
we had cruised the whole south end of the range.
So we packed up and moved over the divide once
more to jibe with our first work and work north from
there along the east slope.
These runs were anything but pleasant. The east
side, rougher and less heavily timbered than the
western half of the Eange, was for that the more
difficult to cruise, and the region that we now went
through seemed worse than any place we had en-
countered thus far. But we were becoming thor-
oughly hardened and accustomed to expect a pretty
severe grind each day; we were getting into the
swing of the work and reeling off the long, brushy
runs with infinitely less effort than in the begin-
We first tackled North Percha Creek watershed,
then came a hateful little cliff bordered canyon called
Cave Creek, and finally, about the middle of the
month, we reached Cub Canyon. Ahead, less than
94 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
a week's work away, was the Animas, of which we
had already heard so much. We anticipated, half in
relief, half in anxiety, an early encounter with this
dreaded canyon and its tributaries.
But just at this time the rainy season rather unex-
pectedly set in. A mild drizzle began on the seven-
teenth of June and was followed by a steady down-
pour that lasted three days. We spent this time in
camp, jibing the contours of adjoining runs and
transferring maps and estimates from our field note-
books to permanent section plats. Then on the
twenty-first Frazer decided to cross to the west side
and work northward from where we had left off un-
til the constant rain should cease.
"If we attempt the Animas now," he explained,
"we'll find ourselves up against it for fair. We
could never stand that and the rain at the same
Some of us who had never gone through a rainy
season in the mountains were inclined to believe the
move unnecessary, but later were prone to admit its
wisdom. For besides the usual difficulties the
cruiser had now the added discomfort of being wet
through at least once a day.
Each morning we started out under a cloudless
sky. Almost invariably, as the forenoon wore along,
a storm would overtake us. It was usually heralded
by a first faint mutter of thunder, just audible. A
few moments later a small black cloud appeared
THE EAINY SEASON 95
above the backbone of the range and spread swiftly
till it covered the whole corner of the sky. As it
neared a cold wind roared dismally through the
trees and a moment later rain fell in sheets, blotting
put the surrounding landscape completely.
We stood meanwhile under the half shelter of a
tree or rock, wet to the skin and numb with cold,
and waited till the worst of the storm passed, list-
ening to the hiss of the rain and watching the almost
continuous stabs of lightning, or starting involun-
tarily at the jarring, crashing detonation of the fol-
Then, when the air cleared a trifle, we sallied forth
once more and took up our run where we left off.
Sometimes the rain continued; sometimes we were
enveloped in chilly banks of cloud, not nearly so at-
tractive close at hand as they appeared from a dis-
Once, on a day like this, I ran my line for a mile
over a row of peaks where the cloud mists were so
thick I could see not further than fifty feet in any
direction. My maps, as might be surmised, were
not all that could be desired.
Often, instead of passing overhead, a storm would
miss us and roll by to one side or the other. At such
times, particularly if we chanced to be in a place of
vantage, on a pinnacle or high point, the spectacle
defied description. The whole world, as we saw it —
mountain and valley, sky and far plain,— framed a
96 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CKUISEE
gigantic conflict of elemental forces that suggested
a vision of Dore's. The wonderful bigness of the
sight took one's breath away.
In course of time we grew used to even these awe-
some scenes. All that remained from our first com-
plex of emotion was a keen personal antipathy to
cloud, rain, hail, lightning and thunder, singly and
The most annoying feature of it all was the ex-
treme cold that came with the storm. The rain when
not frozen into hail was cold as ice and at the same
time the general temperature dropped from thirty
to fifty degrees. Dressed as lightly as possible, our
blood thinned by the heat and hard work, we were
easily chilled. Sometimes our arms became numb
to the shoulders and our feet lost all sensation.
Sometimes we shivered and shook so that the con-
tours of our maps took on that tremulous character
which is used in mapwork to indicate the course of
a river. But we worked ahead perforce as best we
could and took our daily bath with as much philos-
ophy as we could command.
To some of the party the lightning was a greater
trial than the rain. Often during a storm the flashes
came so close together that they seemed connected.
Each of us at one time or another managed to get in
the vicinity of a falling bolt when it struck and our
nerves consequently became affected in varying de-
The most exciting incident of this sort occurred
THE EAINY SEASON 97,
one hot night in the early part of July. We had
been laboriously covering the upper Gallinas coun-
try, the Noonday Canyon watershed and the lower
reaches of Shepherd Creek during the two weeks or
more of the rainy weather that had passed.
It was our first camp on Shepherd Creek, and we
had pitched our tents near a little side draw. Within
the camp limits grew several large pines, to one of
which the cook tent was lashed. Some one spoke of
the danger of sleeping so close to these " lightning
rods ' ' and our conversation thereafter until bedtime
consisted chiefly of reminiscences concerning light-
ning and its dangers.
The stars were shining when we retired. Not a
cloud obscured the sky. But in the middle of the
night we were brought up standing by a crash as if
the heavens had fallen. The wind was howling
hoarsely, the rain coming down in torrents and the
lightning and thunder performing with great and
insistent regularity. Through the uproar we heard,
near at hand, loud yells for assistance. I peered
cautiously out through the tent flap and by the rapid
flashes saw a strange sight.
The tent in which Wallace and Wetherby dwelt
was flapping madly in the wind, guy ropes flying and
stakes pulled up. It was held only by the ridge
rope, fastened to two trees, one in front and one be-
hind. The frantic owners, scantily clad and looking
like two bedraggled ghosts, jumped around the
canvas in a mad effort to secure it without being
98 THE LOO OF A TIMBER CEUISER
slapped across camp by a blow from the heavy cloth.
Wetherby's was the voice we had heard. He was
alternately calling for aid and anathematising the
world, while Wallace, less loudly, but fully as heart-
ily, berated his tent fellow for alleged contributory
"Doggone it!" he cried, "didn't I tell you not to
fasten the ropes so tight? You might have known
the tent would shrink and pull up the stakes !"
We did not hear Horace's defence. It is possible
that he had none.
After an extremely strenuous ten minutes the two
unfortunates succeeded in securing the tent once
more. They skipped inside like rats, and had no
more than crawled into their wet beds when a blind-
ing fla,sh and a terrific thunder clap that seemed to
split the earth came simultaneously.
The air was full of flying wood and burning
splinters. By the next quick flash we saw the cook
tent hanging to a shattered tree. We arose at once.
Bert was stunned, but unhurt — a miracle in itself —
and pulling his bed into one of the other tents we left
him cursing as he crawled into his wet blankets and
sought our own couches.
On another occasion, a short time after this mid-
night alarm, a thunderstorm was indirectly respon-
sible for about the worst scare I got during the
season. I was crossing a ridge between Shepherd
Creek and East Canyon when the sound of thunder
first came and I made haste to descend into the can-
THE EAINY SEASON 99
yon, since the danger of being struck is greater on
high points. Halfway down the slope I spied a pile
of outcropping rocks just ahead. It looked like a
good shelter, the more so as on closer inspection a
cave appeared. The mouth was about three feet
high and just wide enough to squeeze through. The
storm was close at hand, so without more ado I
dropped on hands and knees and began to crawl into
the opening. Almost at once I stopped at a slight
movement within, and looked up into a pair of the
brightest, greenest, most fearsome eyes imaginable.
It could not have been more than ten seconds after-
ward before I found myself perched in a small oak,
some five feet from the ground, with no recollection
of how I got there. A female mountain lion, her tail
waving gently to and fro, crouched close to the
ground a short distance away.
I had sometimes fondly imagined a meeting of this
sort, but the details in those adventures did not cor-
respond in the slightest degree to the present cir-
cumstances. I reflected, as I drew my automatic
from its holster, that facts do not invariably follow
the course of mental excursions.
And at just this interesting moment I recalled
with a sinking sensation that I had all but emptied
my gun at a squirrel only a short time before. I
was not sure whether there were any cartridges left
in the magazine.
The ensuing brief pause was one of the most un-
comfortable periods I have ever spent. Fortunately
100 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
for my self-control it was but a few seconds before
the lioness, who had been creeping nearer, stopped,
lowered her head, and with a snarl sprang up and
forward. As she rose I shoved the pistol in her face
and pulled the trigger. A welcome report followed
and as her body struck me and we came to the ground
together I remember thinking mirthlessly:
"Well, if I missed that chance I deserve what's
I arose at once, hastily, still grasping my pistol,
but the lioness remained where she had fallen. My
one lucky shot, entering the mouth, had blown the
top of her head off. I examined the magazine of
my revolver and found that it was empty. Then I
began to be really frightened.
When, upon returning to camp, I related the ex-
perience to the others, Bert at once asserted that
there must have been kittens in the cave I had at-
tempted to enter.
"A lion'd never stand up to you," he said, "un-
lessn'n she'd got young uns. I'm goin' down to-
morrow and get them."
He was as good as his word, returning next eve-
ning with two small, fluffy, tawny creatures and the
skin of the old one, of little value at this time of year.
The kittens were kept for a short time, but they be-
came troublesome before long and we killed them.
As for myself, I took good care after this to keep
my gun full of cartridges and an extra loaded mag-
azine in my pocket.
BERT SEES THINGS
IN East Canyon we camped near Tom O'Brien's
sawmill, one of the small portable outfits, with a ca-
pacity for cutting five or ten thousand feet of saw
timber per day, tbat are to be discovered here and
there in the Black Range.
The proprietor we found a genial soul whose in-
terests seemed to centre more in the shooting and
trapping of "varmints " than in the lumber industry.
He showed us several good bear skins that he wanted
outrageous prices for and also, which was more in-
teresting, a tame grizzly, half grown, with which he
was on alarmingly intimate terms. He boxed and
wrestled with his huge pet for our benefit but warned
us at the same time that he was the only person for
whom these pastimes were safe. None of us tested
the accuracy of the statement but it was very prob-
ably true, for whenever any one came near the
boards which fenced in the bear his reception was
somewhat terrifying. " Teddy " had escaped from
his pen, 0 'Brien told us, more than once, but always
turned up later after absences of varying length.
The sawmill was not an imposing affair, but we
were able to study local methods and costs of logging
102 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
here to advantage and as we were all pretty tired at
the time Frazer decided to spend a week or ten days
in the locality, going over the O'Brien timber sale
area and gathering tree growth data. During this
whole period the rain obligingly held off, nor did it
begin again till we had moved to another camp
higher in the range.
Growth study, a science in itself, we found most
interesting. The work involved counting the annual
rings on each tree stump left by the wood-cutters and
a measurement of the stump height. From these
figures, compiled for a large number of trees, the
size of a tree at any given age can be determined,
or conversely one can estimate how many years it
would take a yellow pine or Douglas fir to attain, on
the average, a specified diameter. An examination
of "reproduction" was also made by which the av-
erage height of a seedling at various ages was esti-
While stopping here we almost lost Bert, a calam-
ity which would have changed the whole aspect of
things for us for the rest of the season.
The trouble all started with O'Brien's hogs.
They developed from the very start a detestable
penchant for hanging around camp. And though
Bert was able to keep them at bay during the day, at
night they made sleep impossible with their snort-
ings and gurglings and squealings and the loss of
self-respect we felt at their propinquity.
Every evening after supper we would gather
BERT SEES THINGS 103
stones and pile them near our beds. Then just as
we started to doze the first signals of the coming
conflict would sound. From down the creek, from up
the creek, from the slopes on either hand swarmed
the vanguard of the hog battalions. Black hogs,
white hogs, little and big, all sorts and conditions of
hogs, swooped down in a vicious spirit of evil ca-
maraderie upon our devoted camp.
Then the battle would join. Stones and curses
rained upon the invaders. A perfect bedlam en-
sued, the terrified cries of the hogs mingling with
the shouts and execrations of our party and the fu-
rious barking of the dogs.
For our dogs, be it said to their credit, did their
part nobly. " Violet/' the bull-terrier, "Nico-
demus, ' ' the thoroughbred Airedale, and * i Snip, ' ' the
most useful of the lot, who according to Brown, his
master, was of the "just dog" strain, charged the
hogs time and again. Each sortie had the same re-
sult. The visitors would turn and run off as fast as
they could, screaming and squealing until pursuit
ceased. The dogs would then return, the fusillade
of stones cease, and all would be as silent as death,
for about half an hour. Then again from up the
creek, from down the creek and from all round about
sounded tentative, experimental grunts and gurgles
and we knew that another attack was beginning to
develop and end in the same manner as the first —
and all the others.
This nightly combat was hard enough on all of
104 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEK
us, but Bert had to spend most of the day as well
fighting the intruders. He became thin and worn
looking. The strain made him nervous.
Finally he lost patience. He procured a demi-
john of whiskey from O'Brien and, announcing that
he had "quit," started to drink it up and forget
his troubles. He unquestionably succeeded in the
former endeavour and probably in the latter as well,
for when we came in at night he was dead to the
world. "We put him to bed and Brown cooked sup-
We were somewhat worried over Bert's reported
declaration of desertion but Frazer did not seem
"He's just tired out," the chief said, "and felt
like giving his nerves a good time. He'll be all right
in the morning. Just let him alone to-night."
We were perfectly willing to accede to this re-
quest, but the stars in their courses determined
events otherwise. That night there was a bright
moon that lighted objects for some little distance.
It brought out the forms of our enemies, the hogs,
so clearly that we were able to bombard them ef-
fectively enough to keep them out of camp most of
the time. In this way we managed to get consid-
We were brought out of one of the longest of
our slumber spells by an unearthly scream from the
"Take 'em away! Take 'em away for God's
BEET SEES THINGS 105
sake!" we heard, again and again, in a voice shrill
We rose at once and ran to the tent. There on
his bed lay Bert, raised on one elbow, his face
ghastly and his eyes distended and staring straight
at a dark, ungainly shape which stood swaying up-
right and groping its laborious way toward hia
bed. In one arm it held aloft a formless figure drip-
ping blood. By the dim uncanny light the spectacle
was gruesome enough. We stood transfixed with
horror as the monstrous thing advanced.
Suddenly Bert uttered a wilder shriek than all and
fell over unconscious. At the same moment a ray
of moonlight shining through a hole in the roof of
the tent showed us O'Brien's bear, Teddy, with one
of those fiendish hogs, evidently just killed, clutched
firmly in his forepaws.
As Bert's yells ceased the bear promptly squatted
down and began to eat the slaughtered animaL
Our first terror vanished, but we still hesitated about
endeavouring to influence Teddy's actions, much as
we desired his absence. Nor did we wish to shoot
him, since O'Brien had told us he was harmless if
left alone. We were finally forced to send for his
master, who tied a rope around his neck and led him
home, apologising in the meantime for the trouble
he had caused.
It was some time before Bert came to. He imme-
diately swore never to touch another drop of liquor
as long as he lived. Unlike most such pledges, I be-
106 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
lieve that to date this promise has been kept. He
forgot all about his threat to quit and we left East
Canyon and moved to lower McKnight in a few days
— a great relief to all.
I have often wondered how long Bert would have
stayed had we disobeyed Frazer's orders and told
the cook the true story of the night's occurrences, in-
stead of allowing him to continue in the firm belief
that he had suffered from delirium tremens.
HORACE TAKES A STAND
THE rain began again as soon as we reached Mc-
Knight Creek, and continued during all the time we
worked that canyon.
In the very first camp we made Horace fell ill.
His trouble included chills, fever, general debility
and a bad cold. Brown called it "mountain fever."
The patient had been complaining for some time
of various pains and aches, usually after a hearty
meal, and the sympathy we might have felt for him
was minimised by the fact that we were all inclined
to attribute the condition from which he suffered to
None of us had delicate appetites — our work pre-
cluded that — but we were well aware that if we ate
all we wanted at every meal catastrophe would fol-
low surely. Horace alone consistently stuffed him-
self in spite of our warnings and the collapse of
his system, we felt, was simply the inevitable result
of this self indulgence.
But the sick man in turn ascribed his illness to the
altitude, the water, the temperature and the work, to
every imaginable reason, in fact, but the obvious
one. He suffered — and incidentally inflicted suf-
fering on every one else — for several days. Then,
108 THE LOG OP A TIMBER CRUISER
his digestive organs having rested, he began to grow
Frazer held a heart to heart talk with him as
soon as he was convalescent.
"I think you'd better get ready to go, Wetherby,"
the chief told him, "as soon as you feel well enough
Horace was dumbfounded.
"W-why, what's the matter ?" he stammered,
scarcely able to believe his ears.
"Your work has been unsatisfactory, that's the
matter, " replied the chief, bluntly. "And it's be-
cause you're not only ignorant of what you're sup-
posed to do but because you won't try to learn any-
thing about it. You've got an idea you know it all
in advance. You won't listen to men who have for-
gotten more about timber than you could learn in ten
years. You undoubtedly know more than any of us
in certain lines, but your special knowledge is of no
more use in this life we're leading than Brown's
talents would be if he were placed behind the steer-
ing wheel of a motor car.
"Don't think I'm trying to rub it in. I've simply
made up my mind to let you go and I want you to
know why. Wallace and Conway are getting sore
on the deal. It's not fair to have them do part of
your work as well as their own, and that's about
what's been going on right along. So as soon as the
packers go in to town after chuck you can go along
HOKACE TAKES A STAND 109
"My God!" cried the sick man, as he saw that
Frazer was in earnest. ' * Don 't say that ! I thought
I was doing all right, but I'll work harder yet. I'll
do superhumanly I Just try me once more!"
Frazer did not relish the situation at all. He was
used to handling men who were the reverse of diffi-
cult to discharge. More often than not they antici-
pated such a possibility by judicious resignation.
"I'll tell you what I'll do," he finally agreed, " I'll
ask Conway and Wallace if they'll stand for another
week or s.o of your work, and if they want to take a
chance, all right."
Horace threatened to become effusive and Frazer
hastily withdrew to consult with the others. The
baseline party, after some discussion, agreed to the
probationary arrangement upon one condition.
Wallace stated this proposition when he said :
"I'll guarantee to keep Wetherby in good shape if
he'll throw away his medicines and eat sensibly. If
he won't agree to that I don't want him around at
"That's not a bad idea," Conway chimed in.
"There's really nothing the matter with Horace but
indigestion. If he's willing to diet and work, I'm
willing, for my part, to stand him a while longer."
Of course Horace protested loudly when the
scheme was proposed to him, but finally yielded to
necessity. He cast away his pills and powders,
gloomily prophesying disease and death as a result.
He promised to restrict himself in the matter of
110 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CKUISEB
food. But this was not enough for Wallace, who
drew up on a sheet of note paper a slender menu
and presented it to Horace for the latter 's guidance.
Our bill of fare was scarcely confusing in its variety,
so that about all Wallace did was to limit the amount
of Wetherby 's nourishment for each meal. Nor did
he err on the side of lavishness.
Horace took the schedule and read it with care.
His face lengthened perceptibly.
" Oh, gracious! A man can't live on that, Wal-
lace,'' he expostulated. "I simply can't consider
it, it's absurd!"
The Forest Assistant, an equable and mild youth,
if ever there was one, the last to criticise or condemn,
lost patience entirely with his tent-mate.
"You make me tired, Wetherby!" he exclaimed.
"We're giving you a last chance, at your own re-
quest, and at the slightest hint of discipline you act
as if you were being martyred. If you don't want
to follow instructions I'm through with you, that's
This speech' from Wallace, whom Wetherby had
grown to consider the one man in camp who did not
misunderstand him, was a crusher. It seemed to
really get to Horace, whose armour of egotism had
been heretofore proof against adverse criticism.
He walked slowly to his tent, silent, but with the
schedule clutched dutifully in his hand.
Thereafter he followed the diet grudgingly but
faithfully, and at times it was almost painful to wit-
ffi U >>
HORACE TAKES A STAND 111
ness the care and anxiety with which Horace selected
and slowly consumed his allowance of food. Two
spoonfuls of beans, three of rice, one potato, two
slices of bread ; everything was itemised and meas-
ured. And each mouthful was swallowed not lightly
or absent-mindedly, as by one plethoric and careless
of his abundant riches, but in the silence of a bitter
concentration which grasped desperately at the
transient and elusive joy. Always he left the cook
tent immediately after a meal, to escape the agony
of watching others eat.
This discipline, hard as it was on the patient's
emotions, in a very short time worked wonders in
his physical condition. During working hours the
improvement was noticeable from the first.
And in the evening, instead of flinging himself
down on his bed and groaning until supper time he
hovered uneasily in the vicinity of the cook tent until
Bert's "Take her a-w-a-a-ay!" announced that the
meal was ready.
All the known circumstances of the probationary
experiment were discussed freely by every one, both
in and out of Wetherby's presence. It had come to
be assumed among us generally that he had no pride,
no sensibility. As a matter of fact Horace simply
couldn't conceive of any one making game of him
or treating his pretensions as absurd. But now, un-
der the goad of constant ridicule, it was apparent
that he was beginning to take note of and resent the
scarcely veiled amusement and contempt of his co-
112 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
workers. The night he got lost and " slept out"
brought matters to a head.
No one knew just how he came to be separated
from Wallace and Conway that evening. As it was
no new thing for him to drop behind and catch up
with them later they thought nothing of his absence
until some time after reaching camp, when Horace
still failed to put in an appearance.
It was scarcely probable that he was hurt, we
thought, as the route of the baseline had not been
particularly rough. But a night in the woods with-
out a bed is no joke, at the best, and we were in-
clined to feel for Horace as we slipped into our
warm blankets, a little later, with a sympathetic
A storm came up during the night and our uneasi-
ness increased. With all our guying and criticism
of the missing man, no one now really disliked him
to any great extent, or wished him any injury. We
thought of him rather as a helpless eccentric than
as a capable irritant.
Next day Frazer met the general mood when he
"I'm a little worried about Wetherby, fellows!
Let's knock off work this morning and look for him."
But we were spared the necessity. Shortly after
breakfast the "lost goat," as Conway rather un-
kindly called him, returned to camp, a most woe-
begone spectacle. His wet and wrinkled clothes,
HORACE TAKES A STAND 113
bleached skin and hollow eyes gave him the appear-
ance of a shipwrecked tramp.
He looked at us anxiously, apparently nerving
himself for a siege of jollying.
But in this, I'm glad to say, he was disappointed.
No one spoke or smiled till Frazer said cheerfully :
"Well, Horace, how'd you make it? We were
just going out to look for you."
"I've had a dreadful experience," replied the
wanderer, huskily, "I forgot to take any matches
with me and it was frightfully cold. I'll drink a
cup of coffee and change my clothes and get ready
to go out if the fellows will wait for me."
He walked heavily to his tent, leaving us with
open mouths and groping minds. The thought of
Horace actually proposing to work when he was not
expected to, dazed us.
"Holy Mackinaw Moses," cried Bert finally, "no
matches! An' he slep' out in that storm. It's a
wonder he ain't froze stiff."
"And he expects to go out to-day," added Con-
way, "he must be crazy!"
"Don't worry, I'll see that he stays in camp,"
said Frazer as he hastened after Wetherby.
The chief divulged later what happened. To be-
gin with, he ordered Horace to bed.
"You're in no condition to go out to-day, Weth-
erby," he said. "Just forget work for the time be-
ing until you've rested up a little !"
114 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
"No," insisted the axeman, "I'm going out with
the others. I know you've all got me sized up for a
joke, and I'm sick and tired of it! Not that you
haven't had reason for thinking as you do. I see
that now: I didn't start right. Things have al-
ways come pretty easy for me. My father made his
own way, and in consequence I've always had every-
thing I needed handed to me. I've never been up
against the real thing. I've never had a chance to
get on to myself. I've never known what the neces-
sity for real, hard work was. In all my camping
trips before, I've had men with me to do the actual
labour. They kidded me along, I guess, because I —
or my father, rather — was paying for it ; and all the
time I thought I was getting experience and becom-
ing a woodsman, when I hadn't even begun to learn.
"I've made a fool of myself on this trip, I sup-
pose. It's taken me a good while to get on to it, but
I can see now how you fellows look at it. You think
I'm no earthly good! But I'm no quitter," he fin-
ished, half crying with angry resolution, "and before
the season's over I'm going to prove it!"
"That's the talk, Horace, old top, fly to it!" cried
Frazer with enthusiasm. "If you keep that spirit
you'll find everybody trying to help you, instead of
joshing you all the time."
"And I thought he was yellow clean through,"
said Frazer, in relating the incident. "But I be-
lieve he's really in earnest! If he shows any signs
HORACE TAKES A STAND 115
of making good in his resolve you fellows cut out the
slapstick stuff and give him a chance ! ' '
So Horace worked that day. And from then on
we noticed a growing change in his conduct and de-
meanour. He became another person altogether.
And though improvement in actual accomplishment
was slow, the new attitude — the apparent recogni-
tion of his shortcomings and his evident determina-
tion to overcome them — won a measure of respect
from us all.
THE rainy season proper stopped on August 10, as
abruptly as it had begun. Thereafter, we had an
occasional storm, it is true, but the monotonous cer-
tainty of rain each day was gone.
We had just about completed our work on Mc-
Knight and were camped at the time near the head
of that canyon, but still on the west side of the
range. Just over the divide to the eastward
stretched the Animas watershed. We had hesi-
tated to cross while the rain lasted, but there was no
reason now for delay in attacking that country, so
preparations for the move were at once made.
I for one was glad of it. We had heard of the
Animas country so often and with such a wealth of
alarming detail, had discussed its possibilities so
frequently, and were, in short, so obsessed with a
nervous dread of this bugaboo that the suspense was
We moved on Monday after a Sunday of rest.
The atmosphere in camp that morning was similar,
I imagine, to the tension of a squad going into battle.
The smallest details of the day are printed inefface-
ably upon my memory.
THE ANIMAS 117
I was awakened, I recall, by the sound of an axe.
Peeping out from under the tarp, through the grey
pall of dawn, I saw Bert vigorously splitting wood
for the fire, which twinkled and smoked as if just
kindled. It was a sight to make one shiver pleas-
antly and crawl deeper into the blankets. I lay still
for a while, enjoying to the full the languorous mood
that comes over one at such times.
But something was wrong. I became for some
reason uncomfortable. A shadow in the background
of my thoughts took shape and form. The Animas !
There came that sinking at the pit of the stomach
that one feels before a race, a football game, or a
Bert's "get up" scream cut the silence like a
siren. No time now for nervous imaginations or
forebodings ! Breakfast was on the way.
Answering screeches lusty, feeble, sleepy, hoarse,
or muffled, came from the tents around. One by one
emerged half clad, tousled, yawning forms, making
single-mindedly for the wash basins by the creek.
It was growing lighter now. We could see the
sun on the high peaks, though the canyons were still
in shade. The cook fire leapt and blazed. We
stood in a half circle about it, soaking up the grate-
Suddenly Bert's voice shrilled once more:
' ' Breffo ! Take her aw-a-ay ! ' '
The summons called us to a steaming meal of
118 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
bacon, beans, potatoes, coffee, hot biscuits and
"lick." Our spirits, under this stimulus, rose
rapidly to normal. Afterward everybody helped
pack, and we were under way by nine o'clock.
It was nearly a mile from camp to the main di-
vide, a gradual slope ending in an abrupt ascent by
a zigzag trail. The nervy little burros, urged on by
the yells of the entire outfit, made the climb cleverly.
The saddle crossed was narrow and steep. As we
neared the top we saw the burros ahead worm slowly
upward, stand out for an instant one by one against
the skyline, then quickly disappear. And one by
one the rest of us, following in single file, reached
the summit and stopped.
I shall never forget that first sight of the Animas !
We were on a bare and rocky ridge. No timber
grew near to impede the vision. For weeks we had
been picturing to ourselves this scene, but now, as
we looked down over the maze of pinnacles, bluffs,
rim-rock and boxes, the welter of formidable ridges
and sharply cut canyons, we knew that nothing of
our imagining approached this terrific fact in point
of wildness or magnificence.
The whole great watershed lay open to our eyes.
Timber grew thick and tall in the canyons, more
sparsely on the ridges, but the entire rocky skeleton
beneath was plainly visible in outline. We saw as
on a map the network of waterways — veins of the
drainage system — that carried the mountain rain-
fall and snowfall to the far plains of the Eio Grande.
OVER THE McKNIGHT-ANIMAS DIVIDE
The burros stood out for a moment against the sky line and one
by one disappeared
WHITEY IN DEEP TROUBLE
After a roll down the mountain with a sheer drop of thirty feet
at the end
THE ANIMAS 119
For miles on either side, north and south, ridge upon
rolling ridge shot out from the main range, con-
stantly decreasing in height as they extended east-
ward. Between them were the canyons, which, be-
ginning at the top in shallow draws, steep and
boulder strewn, etched in by the overflow of snow
and rain, merged ere long to make larger creeks.
These in turn, further down, came together in
ragged, rocky boxes, where sheer cliffs rose dizzily,
and flowing on through canyons ever wider and
deeper, formed the main rivers, for each of which
its respective watershed was named.
The Animas proper was the chief of these final
streams. The river bed itself was not visible from
where we stood, but we could see the high walls of
the canyon through which the stream flowed, and be-
yond the first confusion of mountains where the
smaller tributaries came together, the two timber-
covered ridges that outlined its course. Growing
gradually lower and lower, these ridges flattened at
length into open grassland, where the canyon seemed
a mere dark gash in the soft green of the mesa.
For many minutes we stood silent, rapt in the
grandeur of the scene. No wonder the Spaniards
picturesquely called the place Las Animas — the
Canyon of the Spirits. Its weird majesty seemed to
fit the name; it looked a true abode for wandering
souls or for disembodied beings.
Bert's matter of fact utterance at last broke the
120 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
"Holy Mackinaw Moses," he ejaculated, in a
tone of vast respect, "they's all the original fifty-
seven varieties of country there, ain't they?"
"It shore looks like a piece of God's careless-
ness!" assented Bob Moak. No one could add to
Our intention was to camp on the main stream,
some four miles from the top. There was but one
trail down, and that none of the best. It had an
alarming habit of vanishing at every particularly
awkward place, as if its former users had been pos-
sessed of wings wherewith to fly over the more diffi-
cult stretches. At times we encountered obstacles
that taxed even the ability of men on foot to sur-
mount, but the packers by marvels of ingenuity and
resource somehow got the burros through. About
noon we found ourselves on the last ridge before the
final drop to the bottom. This ridge separated the
two main forks of the Animas. Where they came
together it ended in a high, narrow, precipitous
point, and here again the trail stopped abruptly.
The descent seemed impossible but we had to get
down somehow or go back to where we had started.
So the packers, reconnoitring the edges, chose what
seemed the least of many evils and drove the burros
Then our troubles began. The shrewd pack ani-
mals at once adopted a zigzag course of descent but
even then, so steep was the slope, they could scarcely
keep their feet. Luckily the surface rock was cov-
THE ANIMAS 121
ered witH a fairly deep humus which afforded a
foothold. This was all, I verily believe, which kept
the entire outfit from immediately sliding pell-mell
down five hundred feet of mountain side to the
As it was we were not without excitement of a sort.
Old Bed started things going. She carried the "of-
fice boxes," large wooden kyacks containing in-
struments, maps, drawing materials, and similar
paraphernalia. They were bulky and clumsy enough
on a level. And now Bed had not taken ten tenta-
tive, mincing, downward steps before one of the
ill-fated affairs caught against the side of the hill
and threw the burro off her balance. Over she went,
sideways, and began to roll.
"Good-bye Bed, good-bye boxes!" sang out Fra-
zer, dolefully. It seemed as if they were doomed.
But as luck would have it, the falling animal, be-
fore she had gathered any great momentum, collided
with a small tree, stopped abruptly in her spectacu-
lar flight, regained her feet and scrambled up again
to where the others were. Nor did she again allow
her protruding pack to interfere with an orderly,
if slow, descent.
Me thus alum was the next victim of the force of
gravity. About half way down her breeching strap
broke and the pack slipped over her head. She
backed out of the harness with a skilful wriggle
and standing unemotionally by watched the escaped
burden go crashing down the hill.
122 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
Later, as we neared the bottom and were begin-
ning to breathe more freely, Whitey, who carried the
dufflebags belonging to X)onway and myself, slipped
and went down hill end over end for a distance of
some sixty yards, bringing up with a sheer drop of
at least thirty feet. He landed on his back with a
tremendous thump, the pack between himself and
the creek bed, and lay there wedged between two
rocks, waving his feet in the air and unable to turn
over until we arrived at the bottom.
" There goes our * snake bite cure/ " groaned Con-
way, as we witnessed Whitey 's catastrophe. For
each of us kept a flask in his bag against emer-
gencies and it certainly seemed as if nothing break-
able could have withstood the disintegrating force
of that whirlwind descent. Strange to say, however,
everything was found in good shape, including the
whiskey and Whitey himself, who trotted off when
released with no apparent injuries.
This ended our chapter of accidents and the worst
leg of the move. The rest was comparatively easy.
The canyon soon widened and we struck a very fair
trail that led us about five o'clock to a first rate
.WORKING THE ANIMAS
ALL of us except the baseline crew, Wallace, Con-
way and Wetherby, stayed in camp a few days on
map work, while the baseline was brought over the
top from McKnight Canyon and extended down the
canyon of the Animas to where we lay.
Our few days' respite from physical effort waa
welcome. It gave us, in addition to the rest, an
opportunity to examine our surroundings at leisure
and to become accustomed to the sight of the awe-
some environment in which we found ourselves —
" growing a-climb-ated," Conway called it, with a
tragic effort at punning.
"We had time for exploring and sight seeing in
addition. For the country of the Animas was rich
in localities connected by tradition with stirring
events of Indian and outlaw fighting. We visited
among other places " Vic's Park," a pleasant, open
glade on the very top of a high mountain. Here,
in frontier days, the famous Apache war chief Vic-
torio was followed, it is said, by a regiment of U. S.
regulars, whom he ambushed and practically an-
One of the few survivors was a negro hors,e wran-
124 THE LOGf OF A TIMBER CRUISER
gler. The story goes that this man afterward told a
wonderful tale of how, while hunting horses on the
morning of the massacre, he ran across a marvel-
lously rich mass of gold bearing "float rock." He
exhibited a piece of this as evidence of the truth of
his story and announced an intention of returning
before long to find the main vein. But he disap-
peared shortly after without leaving any more in-
formation than that.
This is the local legend, and many have been the
hopeful prospectors to toil away an arduous season
in fruitless search for the fabulously rich " nigger
diggins," as they were called. We contributed our
mite of labour to this myth, but found no gold.
Brown, however, did discover in Vic's Park an old
nearly decomposed army pack saddle, and nearby
the bones of the animal which had, we supposed,
The park was also an excellent lookout point. The
surrounding country could be seen in all its wild
magnificence. And, as we gazed, something of its
wildness seemed to disappear. The grandeur, the
compelling solemnity of its spacious outlines, entered
our souls. There was a strangely familiar effect
apparent in the shapes of the vast, eroded rocks, in
the slender pinnacles, the pillar like cliff formation,
the whole grave spirit of the place. Frazer of all
of us first hit it when he called the conception of the
canyon "Gothic." That was it, indubitably. We
were amid a multitude of temples. The true spirit
WORKING THE ANIMAS 125
of the Gothic, apparent everywhere, sobered us like
the distant chords of a great organ.
One view in particular suggested, through the
magic of the surroundings and the softening atmos-
phere, the famous cathedral of Milan. The rock
walls rose mistily blue against the sky, delicate as
the work of fairies. Buttresses gleamed in the sun,
great arches shone as they shouldered the mass of
intricate ornamentation, of pinnacles and points,
that topped the whole. Then as we looked the sun
hid behind a cloud, the glistening, lacelike details
were blotted out in a wave of darkness and the form-
less face of mystery, sombrely impassive, stared us
into insignificance and awe.
"We were glad, strange as it may seem, when the
day came for cruising. Several things accounted
for this. In the first place we had rested thor-
oughly and were feeling the need of hard work once
more. Then, too, conditions in camp were most un-
comfortable. We had descended to an altitude of
less than six thousand feet and for the first time dur-
ing the summer began to suffer from the heat.
All day the sun burned down wickedly. No rain
came to cool the air. Even at night, which seemed
strangely unjust to us, it was warm and sultry and
we slept poorly.
To make matters worse all the flies and yellow
jackets in the world seemed to have appointed our
camp a rendezvous. Our sun baked sleeping tents
looked now like hives, now like well filled fly traps.
126 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
The cook tent was black and swarming with the
little pests. They covered the food like a pall, they
committed unpleasant suicide in the coffee or the
soup, it was worth a sting or so to pass the sugar
or jam, and eating soon became for us the most irk-
some task of the whole twenty-four hours.
Our nerves and our dispositions suffered from
these things. We were therefore distinctly relieved
when the baseline came at last into camp and work
was assigned for the following day. The runs here
were planned to extend north and south; up the
high, steep ridges that shut in the stream and over
into the cut up, rough country beyond where moun-
tains and rocky spurs tossed like waves in a choppy
.When I reached my first station next morning and
glanced upward at the prospect before me it seemed
impossible that one could ever win to the top of the
first ridge. There was no hope in offsetting. On
either side it was surely as bad, perhaps worse. One
must simply make a beginning and trust to luck.
So I started on the arduous ascent, working slowly
up crevices in the bluffs, carefully crossing the
broken surface of huge rock slides liable at a false
move to go rumbling to the bottom bearing the un-
wary intruder haplessly upon the stony crest, and
up steep, bare slopes so sharp that only by the
timely aid of shrubs and stunted trees could one rise
at all. It was hours before I even approached the
top. Below, a thousand feet and more, ran the river
WORKING THE ANIMAS 127
I had left. Above remained some fifty feet of rim-
rock, almost perpendicular, but not difficult to ne-
gotiate provided one kept a cool head. Yet just
here, with the long climb almost over, a thoughtless
moment brought me as close, I think, to sudden death
as I have ever knowingly been.
I was two-thirds up the rampart of rock, resting
on a little ledge some eight inches wide and clasp-
ing with both arms a pillar of stone whose pointed
top stretched two feet above my head. It seemed
firm enough for my purpose, which was to pull my-
self up on this until I had gained a crevice, just
above, that promised to make the rest easy. As a
rule we always tested the stability of a support be-
fore trusting our entire weight to it, for in a great
many instances the fault, a peculiarity of formation,
splits a slab from the main body so that a touch or
a pull will dislodge it. But this time, careless with
the thought of imminent success, I quite neglected
such precautionary measures.
I reached above, grasped the top of the oblong
rock and with a sharp heave raised myself with my
arms. As I did so the supposedly solid mass gave
with my weight. For an empty moment I felt my-
self falling backward. There was no time to cal-
culate. By a lucky instinct I glanced to the right,
spied what seemed to be a narrow foothold a few
feet away and leapt for it.
It held ! And as I clung there, suspended above
the abyss, I heard the great block I had dislodged a
128 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
moment before go crashing down the dizzy slope
followed by continually fainter and more prolonged
I felt my knees begin to weaken and realised, as
clearly as if I were another person, that I was very
much frightened. I dared not look below. Nor
could I see much chance to ascend; but it was sui-
cide to remain where I was. It seemed an age —
really it couldn't have been more than a few sec-
onds— before I moved. Every nerve was tightly
strung, every faculty at highest tension, focus sed
with straining single mindedness upon the one de-
sire to scale the ten or twelve feet of stone that
loomed between me and safety.
I don't know yet just how I reached the top of the
ledge. So intent was I upon the task that I was
unconscious of anything else. Slowly from cranny
to cranny, from crevice to crumbly ledge, I pro-
gressed till at length I felt the top with extended
hands. One careful pull, one cautious last exertion
and I fell forward with a gasp of relief and gave
way to those wretched sensations that I had man-
aged to ignore until safe.
It was a long time before I resumed my run. And
it was days before I recovered from the effects of
this adventure. As a matter of fact I don't be-
lieve I ever did quite overcome a tendency to nerv-
ousness that often caught me later at unexpected
moments. Sometimes when clambering over cliffs
that earlier in the season would have been mere
WORKING THE ANIMAS 129
child's play I would feel that sudden faintness,
that suspicion of nausea, which preceded a fit of
"the trembles," and would have to stop in my tracks,
a prey to the most miserable sensations, until it was
over. I used to force myself to climb the same place
over and over in an effort to conquer this weakness,
but it was not of much use. Even to-day when I
stand in a high place and look down a wave of diz-
ziness comes over me.
The rest of my run was as hard as any I had
hitherto encountered. Up and down hill all day,
one ridge after another, brush, dead and down stuff,
locust and manzanita. I got back to camp at seven
and found that I had not been alone in my discom-
fort. Each cruiser had tales to unfold of brush and
heat and giant hills and impossible situations finally
Yet through the chorus there was a note of cheer-
fulness, of buoyancy even. We had at last come to
grips with the bugbear of our season's task and won
the first bout. Henceforth there might be hard
work in plenty, but never again would we feel fear
of our enemy, that haunting, superstitious dread
that the Animas had inspired. Our imaginations
were on our side now !
THE month that followed our invasion of the Animas
is one which I have been trying ever since to for-
get. Everything disagreeable that could be imag-
ined seemed to occur during this period ; ther6 were
no redeeming features to the experience. It was a
nightmare and no mistake. To begin with, the coun-
try we covered was consistently disheartening to
cruise. It was as bad, if not worse, than the sample
of the first day. The east slope seemed all of a
piece. Eagged, stony, cactus covered ridges, cliffs
interminable, a wretched, sun-baked, desolate stretch.
There was good timber in the canyons, and cord-
wood upon the ridges, but the chief reason why Fra-
zer covered this township at all was to get the coun-
try mapped so that the Supervisor could use our data
in the administration of that district. For the
watershed is an important one and the cattle and
sheep grazing privileges thereon, as well as the dis-
posal of the timber, is handled by the Forest Serv-
The heat continued and made what might other-
wise have been considered merely a case of neces-
sary extra exertion a veritable time of torment.
The flies, too, and the yellow jackets, were insuffer-
able. Altogether it was not long before we were in
a condition of nervous and physical exhaustion bor-
dering on hysteria.
We had but one idea, to finish this desolate coun-
try as soon as it was humanly possible to do so.
Each morning we woke from uneasy sleep tired and!
listless. Our legs seemed lead, our feet fastened to
the ground. As the day wore on we felt better and
in consequence almost invariably overtaxed our
strength before night so that we reached camp thor-
oughly fatigued, too far gone sometimes to care
even for food.
We lost weight rapidly. Every face had a drawn,
gaunt look, and our nerves were in shreds. Quar-
rels were only avoided by limiting communication
to an exchange of mere necessary civilities — them-
selves none too civil. Night after night we dragged
in, ate in sullen silence and went immediately to our
tents, where we lay as quietly as might be until dark-
ness drove the flies to their unholy rest and afforded
us a chance to sleep.
Horace, which surprised us not a little, seemed to
be affected by the temperature and the work least
of any one. Whether this was due to his naturally
splendid constitution, given a chance to assert itself
by Wallace's regimen, or grew out of his recent
determination to make good in his work, or whether
it sprang from a fundamentally amiable disposition
or was simple perversity no one could decide. The
132 THE LOG OF A TIMBEE CRUISER
fact remained, however, that during this trying time
Wetherby played the role of Little Sunshine with
something approaching success, and if not inva-
riably blessed therefor, at least did not receive more
than his proportionate share of abuse and vilifica-
We finished the Animas watershed in less than two
weeks, then crossed the divide north and camped
in the canyon of the Seco. The work here was prac-
tically a repetition of what we had just been through,
with the pleasant added interest of rattlesnakes.
During the earlier part of the season we had oc-
casionally run across a snake, but it was an event
when it occurred, a matter to be recounted at night
in all its details. We were thrown into mortal ter-
ror by the angry song of a diamondback. Our
course through brush, over rocks, or in fact in any
locality where snakes might be expected, was
marked by great circumspection. And if the dry
"b-r-r-r-r-" for which we momently waited did ac-
tually sound, our excitement was real and prolonged.
In the Animas, snakes were an everyday occur-
rence. And while at first we went in fear and trem-
bling, later on we grew used to them — to a certain
extent — and did not mind so much.
I have always thought that Bert was responsible
for the greater part of our initial terror. As soon
as it was evident that snakes were out he thought
up a set of appropriate yarns. The first one came
the evening after the discovery of a small rattler
which Conway and I found a few feet from the door
of our tent. We were retailing the incident with a
sense of importance. This was Bert's opportunity:
"You want to be careful every night, " he re-
marked casually, "to look in your bed. Them rat-
tlers is shore tickled to git in a feller's blankets. It
warms 'em up like. Of course, if you git in with
'em and rile 'em enny they might hurt ye. It's al-
ways best to look."
We must have looked depressed, for Bert seemed
pleased. After a moment he resumed:
"Ef you only had a horsehair rope with you all
it'd be safer. Stretch one of 'em around a tent and
a snake '11 never cross it. I rec'lect how a partner
of mine a 'most got bit for not doing it once."
Of course we clamoured for the story. We had
to, in self-defence.
" 'Twa'n't much," disclaimed Bert, "as it turned
out. We wuz in a snake country and I 'd been sleepin '
with a hair rope round my bed just to be on the
safe side. My pardner, fellow-by-name-of-Jenkins,
laughed at it. He warn't afraid of no snakes, not
"Well, come a moonlight night a few evenings
later, and I couldn't sleep nohow. Jest tossed one
way an' another all night. Long about one or two
o'clock, I reckon it was, I looked over at Jenkins,
sleepin' peaceful like. Thar in the moonlight, right
at the head of his bed, I see something bright a-
shinin' an' glistenin'.
134 THE LOG OF A TIMBEE CEUISEE
"I couldn't for the life of me make out what it
was, so I raised up on one elbow and as I did I see
a shinin' head rise up, too, right by Jenkins' face.
"Lordy, it give me a start. 'Twas a rattler shore
enough, an' a plumb wicked lookin' varmint, big
around as my wrist. 'Twas quiled up for warmth,
cuddled on the edge of a blanket, snug's you please.
"When the snake seen me move it must have got
scairt, for it started glidin' off silent and smooth.
An' I'm blessed if twan't crawlin' away from me
right across Jenkins9 face.
"He hadn't moved yet, but all of a sudden he give
a little start, just the littlest kind of shiver, an' then
lay still again. But when I looked at him now his
eyes was open, wide an' stary, and I knew he was
on to what was happenin'.
" 'Lay still,' I whispered, * don't you move!'
"I didn't never know whether he heered me or
not, because at the time he didn't have much chance
of showin' it ef he had an' later I forgot to ask.
But he shore kep' still. Didn't even wink his eyes
while that there big rattler was slippin'Tiis six
feet of scaly hide acrost his count 'nance.
"It must 'a felt curyus while 'twas goin' on.
Jenkins said afterward it sounded like a big wind
blowin' mournful through the trees. But Jenkins
was always a turr'ble liar, so you couldn't depend
much on what he said."
Here Bert stopped as if the tale was finished. He
smoked reflectively at the fire. After a decent in-
terval had elapsed some one asked :
"What happened then?"
Bert looked his reproach at the questioner.
' ' What happened then I Why no thin '. Of course,
as soon as the snake got a little bit away we up
an' kilt him. What I wuz tryin' to tell you was
about that there horse hair rope. Y' ought-a al-
ways carry one with you."
None of us had a horse hair rope, nor did we
know how such an article could be secured. But for
some nights we took good care, when no one else was
looking, to examine our beds for possible intruders.
After a little time our first nervousness wore off.
We became largely indifferent to rattlers as soon
as we realised that they were more afraid of us
than we were of them. The experience of run-
ning upon them became commonplace and not worthy
of remark unless, indeed, the circumstances held a
special thrill, as once when Frazer, climbing a cliff,
poked his head above a flat rock and looked into the
cold eyes of a giant rattler a foot from his face,
or when Bob Moak was struck twice on the boot by
a snake on which he had inadvertently trodden.
It was August, the time that skins were shed, and
the half-blind reptiles struck more quickly and with
less provocation than at any other time of year;
but even so the danger of being wounded was neg-
ligible unless one actually stepped on a snake or
136 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISER
came upon one unawares, before an effective warn-
ing could be sounded.
As an antidote in case of accident we carried a
small vial of potassium permanganate in each com-
pass case, so that we felt doubly safe. Indeed,
our carelessness toward the last brought us into
many a dangerous situation when only a quick, in-
stinctive backward leap, a duck of the head, or an
abrupt halt saved us from playing the part of pin-
cushion to the fangs of a waiting enemy.
ON TOP AGAIN
FROM the Seco we moved north to Palomas Creek,
where we made three camps.
We were nearing the end now of our east work
and our efforts to make the best speed possible were
increased, if that could be, by the discovery that the
supply of chuck on hand was nearly exhausted. It
was a week's trip with the burros to Kingston, and
as we moved every few days the pack outfit could not
be spared long enough to bring out supplies. Un-
less, indeed, we halted where we were and mapped
in camp till the burros could make the journey. But
we had had one experience of this sort in the Animas,
and one was enough. We voted to keep on till we
could make camp on top, a few thousand feet higher,
and do our waiting there.
In the meantime our slender stores dwindled and
'day by day we came to the end of one sort of food
after another. Canned fruits and vegetables went
first, milk and butter next, finally the last of the
sugar and the jams disappeared. We were partic-
ularly sorry to see the latter go, as all through the
season we had felt a consistent craving for the
energy producing sweets and we could find nothing
138 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
now that would make even a fair substitute. At
noon we suffered most. We were accustomed to
take with us only a couple of jam sandwiches, but
though the amount of lunch was small, we missed it
greatly, and scarcely ate the bread and bacon we
At last we left Palomas and moved north again
to Morgan Creek. This was a small stream in a
narrow, rocky canyon, that drained about the rough-
est and wildest patch of country we had seen. But
we went at it hopefully for we could see from the
ridge the goal of our present ambition, the boundary
line which marks the northern limit of the Gila and
the beginning of the Datil National Forest.
In less than a week we were through. Tired in
muscles and in nerves, weak from overwork, insuffi-
cient food and the heat, we still felt cheerful — for
the east side was done. During the last few days
we worked on bacon and beans, but did not much
care. We had completed, we knew, a difficult task,
asking no odds of circumstances, and we jubilated
feebly but wholeheartedly at its conclusion.
And when we hit the long trail to the top, when,
as we ascended, the grateful coolness of the air from
the heights struck our faces, when a little later we
smelled again the damp, delicious odour of the firs
and entered the soft twilight of the heavy forest, we
breathed a huge breath of relief. The change had
the refreshing quality of a bath after a wrestling
bout, of rain following a long dry spell.
ON TOP AGAIN 139
Our week's holiday on top — for such it seemed
though we worked steadily on our maps — did us all
a world of good. We were camped on a little rise
at the very summit of the range in a pretty grove
of aspen. The camp spring was at the head of a
tiny draw, which, growing larger and ever larger
in its winding descent formed finally the Black
Eiver, one of the largest and most picturesque
streams of the west side.
These surroundings, after our recent debilitating
environment, seemed ideal. The days were clear
and cool, the nights distinctly chilly. We needed all
our blankets to keep warm, but the change had the
effect of making us sleep like dead men, to awake
each morning vastly refreshed and half famished.
The question of food, however, became rather
serious. The packers left for supplies as soon as
camp was made, but we were nearly out of chuck
then and a week is a long fast when one is as hungry
as we were. The situation was aggravated by the
fact that the woods around us swarmed with wild
turkey. Every morning we were awakened by the
"ob-bullob-bullob-bulloble" which proclaimed their
One morning, as we came out of our tents, we
were just in time to see Bert taking careful aim with
a 22 rifle at some dark body in a fir not ten yards
from the cook tent. Before he could shoot a flock
of at least ten turkeys, alarmed by our movements,
flew out of the tree and disappeared in the forest.
140 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CBUISER
Frazer was rather put out over the incident.
"You ought to know better than that, Bert," he
exclaimed. "I simply can't stand for any killing
of game out of season. I've got to fire the first man
that does it, no matter who it is."
"Well, why can't them turkeys keep away an'
leave me alone, " grumbled Bert. "I wasn't both-
erin' them none when they came right up to the cook
tent and started joshing me. I don't suppose if I
was to meet one in th' road an' he run up an' bit
me I'd have a right to defend myself. "
Thereafter, though our appetites increased daily
and the turkeys were as thick as ever, no one at-
tempted to molest them..
We were helped out of our predicament by old
man Reed, known as the "Hermit of Black Can-
yon," who brought us from his ranch, a short half
mile away, a welcome supply of potatoes, string
beans, cabbage and other vegetables which flourished
He was called a recluse, but his attitude toward
us was most un-hermitlike. He came over to camp
every evening, his daily offering of eatables in a
gunnysack over his shoulder. We were always glad
to see him and that not altogether on account of the
addition to our stores his arrival meant. Each
night he sat and talked with us a while before leav-
ing and his graphic stories of early days in the
hills, of Indian fighting and adventures with big
game, were absorbingly entertaining.
ON TOP AGAIN 141
If the Hermit's unexpected sociability surprised
us, we were totally unprepared for his appearance
and demeanour. Eumour had painted him a fear-
some person. His reputed exploits were many and
terrible. He had come here thirty years ago, they
said, broken down in health and finances, had settled
on his inaccessible homestead and held it ever since
despite all manner of obstacles contrived both by
man and Nature, each year adding new land to that
already under cultivation, cutting deeper into the
surrounding forest and carving his domain inch by
inch from the stubborn wilderness about him.
We thought to see a huge, half wild savage, but
Eeed was small, mild in appearance, easy and
gentle in manner and voice. He was essentially
commonplace. One could have imagined him sitting
on a cracker box in some New England village gro-
cery, discussing politics and local issues. Bert's
designation of him as a "Hilltop Beuben" seemed
appropriate. Yet from all accounts, others as well
as his own, his had been an adventurous existence,
replete with thrilling encounters and hairbreadth es-
capes from death.
It struck me that his life nowadays must be tame
and rather lonely. But he quickly dispelled this
"Lonesomeness is nothin' but a habit," he
averred in answer to a suggestion along this line.
"When I first came here I was too busy with the
yarmints and mebbe once in a while an Indian or
142 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
so, to get very lonely. Then arter a while I found
I'd forgot how to be.
" Course I like to see people once in a while, to
kind of git my tongue loosed up; but when they're
gone I don't never miss them none."
Despite this assurance I suspected a hidden trag-
edy, some old romance, beneath the Hermit's blithe
exterior, to account more fully for his voluntary and
continued exile here on the very top of the dark
I hinted as much later to Brown, who knew old
man Reed well, but he scouted the idea.
"He jest lives up here because he likes it. He
struck a good thing and helt onto it. They hain't
nothin' else he could make such a good livin' out'n.
"That's one thing your National Forest is doin',"
reflectively added the packer, who in general, more
to irritate us if possible than for any other reason,
affected to look with scepticism upon the value of
Service work. "I gotta say you're givin' the reel
settler a chance. Of course ole man Reed was here
long before the Forest was a Guv'ment affair, but
they 's plenty more places like his homesteaded under
Forest Service reg'lations, an' better than his ranch
was when he come here."
"There are over two hundred areas listed now on
the Gila, ' ' I put in, ' ' as land suitable for agriculture
and open to settlement under the act of June 11,
"Yes, an' they's a good many hundred more
ON TOP AGAIN 143
ready whenever people want 'em, * ' returned Brown.
"Of course they ain't no fortune in them right away,
but making a livin' isn't hard here, if a man '11 work,
an' before long, if the Forest Service keeps timber
thieves an' fakers out the way they're doing, they's
goin' to be a sight of people comin' in here an'
tickled to death to get one hundred and sixty acres
of good land just by livin' on it an' workin' it."
This was all true but I was familiar with the facts
that Brown offered. I was more interested just now
in Eeed and his history. I could not easily give
up my romantic conception of the genial old moun-
taineer, despite Brown's matter of fact view of the
"It may have been his drinking, after all," I mur-
mured half to myself, for I had heard that he had
formerly been given to the habit in excess. "He
probably feels that this is the only safe place for
him, the only way after his struggle with rum that
he can avoid temptation!"
"Who, him!" burst out Brown, with a guffaw.
"He gits roarin' drunk twice a month regular as
clockwork. Most all his vegetable money goes for
I began to fear that my attitude toward old man
Eeed might have to be recast and modelled on fact,
after all, instead of fancy.
THE END OF SWING'S STORY
So quickly did the time pass in our new camp on
the mountain that it seemed but a breath before the
day arrived on which we might expect the return
of the pack outfit. But night came with no sign of
the absent burros, and three more days passed be-
fore the jingle of bells and the faint cries of the
packers announced their approach. It was late aft-
ernoon when we first saw them. The burros were
creeping slowly, like a string of heavy laden ants,
up the long, winding trail. Behind them came two
Nearer and nearer they climbed. Brown's weird
scream rang out from time to time. We had heard
it before ever its perpetrator came in sight. But
his companion did not look like Ewing. Before long
we could distinguish the square, stalwart figure of
Jackson, the Kingston ranger.
Speculation immediately arose as to the cause of
Ewing 's failure to appear. The general opinion
was that he had gone on a bender.
Inquiries were made of Brown as soon, almost,
as he had come within earshot. But the packer was
for the time being uncommunicative. Jackson was
THE END OF SWING'S STORY 145
"Wait till after supper," Brown finally said,
1 Til tell you all about it .then."
So we possessed our souls in patience until the
burros were unpacked, the chuck piled away, and
supper finished. Then, pipes lit and at ease about
the fire, we clamoured for the news.
It was a delectable moment for Brown, who pre-
pared to make the most of his opportunity. He
seemed in no hurry to begin. Finally, however, he
took a deep pull at his pipe, glanced sombrely about
the circle and inquired:
"What-th'-hell d'you suppose E wing's gone an'
Since this was precisely what we had been trying
to find out we assumed the query rhetorical and re-
frained from comment.
Our informant, after a pause, answered it himself.
"The crazy son-of-a-gun," he said, "done kilt a
feller the same night we got in town an' surrendered
to th' sheriff d'reckly after. They got him in the
jail at Hillsboro now!"
Here was news with a vengeance. If Brown an-
ticipated a sensation he was not disappointed.
Everybody asked questions at once. We were all
tremendously excited. I asked:
' ' Who was the man killed ? Anybody you knew ? ' '
"Gimme a chance!" pleaded Brown, outwardly
testy, in reality enjoying the situation thoroughly,
"an' I'll tell you the whole story.
"You all remember the day we started? Well, it
146 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
taken us three days to make it in to Hillsboro. No
sooner we got unpacked than Ewing hikes over to
the saloon like he was snakebit an' starts a-hittin'
"I went along behine and taken a few drinks with
him. Afterward I done what I could to git him to
quit, but t'warn't no use. So I went over to the
hotel an' et supper.
"When I come back they done got Ewing into
a poker game. He was drinkin' right smart of
whiskey, but didn't seem to be drunk noways bad.
An' he was sure playin' cyards.
"They was five in th' game, Harry Mallory, th'
tin-horn, Jim Riggs and Stub Whitcomb, from over
to th' Bar 6 Ranch, Jasper Hudson, an' Ewing.
Ewing was a-workin' 'em over proper.
"As I come in they was jest drawin' cyards for
"Ewing looked at his hand an' opened her for
five dollars. He shoved in a stack of blue chips
a cat couldn't jump over, an' jest then I seen a
stranger step in kind of easy like and walk up be-
hind Swing's chair, lookin' at his hand over his
"That's all he done, jest looked over his shoulder
an' stepped back a little, smilin'. But he sure give
me the creeps. He was jest a common cowpuncher,
anybody could see that. Only his face looked plumb
onhealthy, kinder white an' shiny in the lamp light.
THE END OF SWING'S STORY 147
"At the time I didn't think much of it, though,
an' I don't reckon nobody else did neither. Sweat-
ers was thick in there an' what with the heat and th'
tobakker smoke we wasn't expectin' nobody to look
like no posy, as th' feller says.
" Well, Mallory come in the jackpot when Ewing
opened her, and so did one of the cowpunchers.
They each drawed three cyards. All on 'em holp,
an' the bettin' was kind o' swif for a minute.
Then a call come an' they showed down, with Mal-
lory an' Hudson holdin' threes an' Ewing flashin'
tens full on queens.
11 'Holy Moses!' says Mallory, 'j'ye ever see such
" 'I allus have pretty good luck — of a sort,' says
"I remember him sayin' that an' shufflin' th'
cyards for deal, because jest then this here stranger
I tells you about steps around the table, across from
Ewing, an' pokes a 45 cannon in his face.
" 'Yes,' he says, 'an' you're goin' to have some
more o' that luck,' he says, 'right now! Y' been
follerin' me around long enough. You're either
goin' to promise me t' hotfoot it back where you be-
long, or I'll jest about blow the top of your head
"Nobody knew what the feller was talkin' about,
but he shore looked mean enough t' turn milk. He
was shore pizen, that feller.
148 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
"Ewing didn't seem much worried. He jest
looked up at the feller an* smiled an' seemed real
glad to see him.
" 'Whenever you git good an' ready,' he said,
"The feller grinned, awful sour-like, an' sezzee,
'You'll mebbe want t' think o' your sins,' he says,
'fer a little. I'll count ten.'
"Ewing only laughed at th' feller. He shore had
his nerve with him.
"The feller begin to count, an' then, jest as we
heard 'eight' counted, Ewing looked right past him
towards the door of the saloon, same as if he seen
somebuddy, and he shouts out, quick and sudden-
like, ' Millie ! ' Jest like that—' Millie ! ' Th ' stran-
ger give a jump an' half -turned around — an' there's
where Ewing got him! Right through th' head!
'Twas the prettiest shot y' ever want t' see!
"He never looked at th' feller wonct after that.
Jest called in th' sheriff an' give himself up peace-
"What gits me is just who the feller was an' why
he tried to put Ewing out. An' what was Ewing
a-hollerin' that there gal's name fer. Hit's shore
funny. But nobody don't seem to know nothin'
much more than what I tole you."
I had no doubt, under the circumstances, as to who
the dead man was, and I wondered whether the out-
come of his search had helped Ewing to find peace,
or whether his ill luck still remained, whether the
THE END OF SWING'S STORY 149
killing would prove for him a way to happiness or
the road to a hopeless hell. I was answered, in part,
a few weeks later, when the news of the packer's
suicide reached us. He had gone out on bail, fur-
nished by a cattleman he knew, taken a room at the
hotel, locked the door, and shot himself.
The tragedy shocked us inexpressibly. We could
think of nothing else for a time. Knowing more
than the others of Kwing's story, I felt sick over the
affair for days. Then, the first sudden horror of the
shooting over, we began to consider its practical re-
sults. E wing's place must be filled, and at once.
But Jackson, as soon as the question was broached,
set Frazer's mind at rest on this point.
"I 'phoned to Johns at Silver," he said, "as soon
as I heard of the matter, and he told me to ride up
and help you until you can get another man.
There's not much doing in the district right now
anyway, and Eandolph at Fierro can look after
things here for a while. I wouldn't be surprised if
the Supervisor would let me finish out the job with
your outfit. The fire season is over and he's cutting
out all unnecessary men at this time anyway."
That, as it turned out, was just what occurred;
Jackson remained with us until we struck for Silver
OLD MAN REED
FBOM our camp at the top we worked a strip of
country about six miles long — north and south — by
two miles wide. During these runs we covered Yel-
low Jacket peak, the highest point on the range,
which we found to be over ten thousand feet in
While nothing like as disagreeable as the work
on the east side, this was as hard cruising as we
had encountered. For beside the steep, long climbs,
a great part of the forest had been burned over here,
and the one time timber was replaced by a thick
young growth of pine and fir, mingled in most places
with aspen and Mexican locust. In spots this cover,
higher than a man's head, was so closely set and
interwoven that it proved well nigh impenetrable.
When one considers that it grew often on a slope of
from sixty to eighty per cent grade, that loose boul-
ders and malpais lay hidden in the long grass be-
neath the tangled thickets, and that the slippery
dead and down trees were piled in spots as thickly
as an abattis, some conception of the difficulty of the
cruiser's task may be formed.
I remember one day when it took me three hours
OLD MAN REED 151
of the most strenuous sort of work to crass two f o-r-
ties of such stuff. And at the finish I felt as if a
full day's work had been already done. One rea-
son for this was that the footing was extremely bad
and the shoes I wore were too light and thin for the
This question of shoes was one which bothered me
all the season. The Black Range seemed to render
experience in other localities regarding footwear of
no value whatever. I started in on fairly heavy
shoes of the driver type, hobnailed thoroughly. A
pair of nine dollar boots of this kind lasted about a
month. Then a series of experiments began.
I sent to a prominent firm of sporting outfitters
for the best and strongest shoe they put out. A pair
cost me ten dollars. They were beautifully made
and easy to the foot, while they lasted. In a week
the sewing that held the counter on was cut through.
In two weeks the counter itself came off. In less
than a month the leather on the soles, between the
nails, was eaten away as if gouged with a knife,
and shortly after the nails came out and the whole
shoe practically fell to pieces.
Meanwhile I had written to the makers, detailing
my experience. They replied by offering to build
for me, at fourteen dollars, a pair of boots which
they stated could be guaranteed for any country.
When these came (for in a fit of desperation I
gave the firm carte blanche), I did not wonder at
their confidence. The boots were of heaviest sole
152 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CKUISEE
leather, reinforced everywhere, with counters riv-
eted on, and with the soles thickly studded with huge
Hungarian hobs. Broad steel edging nails bound the
soles and heels till it seemed as if nothing could de-
stroy them. Brown immediately christened them
"the bear traps. "
I was unable to give these massively made affairs
a thorough test, unfortunately, for after a few days'
use I decided that if I had to carry them over the
hills and valleys of the Black Eange during the rest
of the season life would not be worth living. They
weighed together, by the way, just a little over eight
Frazer, before this, had hit upon what he con-
sidered a highly satisfactory arrangement. Instead
of paying a big price and getting the heaviest kind
of footwear, he went to the other extreme. He pur-
chased several pairs of light, low athletic shoes, had
them solidly soled and hobnailed, and wore each pair
till it showed signs of giving out, then threw them
away. In this way he not only got three or four
pairs of shoes for what one expensive pair cost, but
possessed the advantage of carrying much less
weight on his feet where every ounce counts.
The drawback to his scheme, applied personally,
was that my feet were apparently not made of the
same material as Frazer 's. I had put on a pair of
his shoes and was discovering this fact on the run I
had begun to describe when the digression on shoes
began. I could feel the rocks through the soles,
OLD MAN EEED 153
sides and counters, and before long I was so lame
that I could hardly walk. Though I made what
speed I could it was long after supper time before
I finished my day's work and started for camp.
On the way home I passed by Eeed 's ranch. The
hermit was seated on the wooden steps of his cabin,
smoking a corncob pipe. He insisted on my stop-
ping for a "bite," and afterward we sat in his little
front room — for his was a four-room edifice — and
talked an hour or more away. That is to say, the
old man talked and I listened. He was quite deaf,
and as a rule spoke in answer to the suggestions of
his own thoughts rather than to another's ques-
"I had a partner once," he announced, after a
short period of rumination.
I nodded my interest in the fact.
"Ye-es," continued the old homesteader, "an*
Jake was a purty good sort of feller — purty good.
He was a worker, too, best I ever saw. But tetchy
— awful! Nobody couldn't never pass no remarks
about Jake's doin's or Jake hisself, withouten he'd
up and git plumb ornery about it. Said he didn't
see no call for nobody t'git curyus as to what a man
was a-goin' to do or not goin' to do or why he
done it, neither.
"I reck'nised Jake's failin' all right, but I was
never one to humour a man over much, and Jake
an' me used to have some right smart spats some-
times." The hermit smiled, gleefully reminiscent.
154 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISER
I could imagine some of those tedium destroying
"What became of Jake?" I shouted.
"Hey! Oh, we'd been quar'lin putty reg'lar and
Jake come in one night and hung up his hat on one
of them nails over yonder, an' while he was washin'
up for dinner I sez to him, says I, 'Jake, what ye
been a doin' this arternoon?' He jest grunted an'
set down to supper and never said a word endurin'
"Afterward Jake gits up an' starts off fer th'
barn plumb mad, fergittin' his hat, he's so putt out
over my questionin' him thataway. 'Whar y'
goin'!' I hollers after him, not thinkin' he'd answer,
but he does. 'Oh I'm jist goin' t' hunt th' burros,'
he says, mighty sarcastic.
"Well, sir, that was four year ago, and I hain't
never laid eyes on Jake sence. An' them two bur-
ros he went t' hunt, they dis'peared 'bout th' same
The old man chuckled inaudibly, sucking his pipe
with vast enjoyment.
Just then there sounded a rousing knock at the
door. Eeed stiffened, shifted in his chair, took his
pipe in his left hand while his right lay negligently
in the vicinity of his hip pocket, and cried out,
There entered at the summons a little, weazened
man with bowed shoulders and a preternaturally
solemn countenance, wrinkled as to forehead and
OLD MAN EEED 155
querulous in expression. He glared ferociously at
Eeed, apparently more from embarrassment, how-
ever, .than from ill will.
' ' Well, Jake," ejaculated the hermit, after a brief
stare of surprise, "did ye find them burros ?"
"Uh-huh!" responded the quaint looking person-
age addressed. Then, as his gaze wandered to the
nails along the wall, he coloured violently.
* i Where 'bouts is my hat ! " he complained, ' ' seems
like a fellor can't step outside but what some dum
galoot has t' move his b 'longings."
The hat, after a short search, was produced in-
tact. When I left a little later the two old cronies
were talking together as cosily as if they had never
been separated for a moment.
I heard sometime after that another quarrel had
taken place and that Jake had left once more. This
might have occasioned a sad condition of affairs at
Eeed's ranch which we observed when next we saw
the hermit and which will be described in due course.
HORACE " COMES BACK"
WHILE camped on top we spent a few days taking
sample acres. The stand of timber, a composite
type of pine, spruce and Douglas fir, with fir domi-
nant, was so different from that on the sparsely cov-
ered eastern slopes that a complete readjustment of
our standards for estimating was necessary to meet
the new conditions. For whereas the yellow pine
that we had cruised through from the Animas to
Morgan Creek did not run to over eighty or ninety
thousand feet, board measure, in an average forty
acres, our sample plots indicated that the stand on
top for all species would probably scale from eight
to twelve thousand feet an acre — three to five hun-
dred thousand feet to the forty.
We found, later, that this computation was not
far off. In some spots we struck such an estimate
would have been short of the actual timber standing.
A number of forties cruised carried all of four hun-
dred thousand feet of pine and fir, while for the
Black Canyon watershed alone we set our final esti-
mate at approximately ninety million feet of stand-
It was necessary also at this time for the baseline
HORACE "COMES BACK" 157
to be carried forward along the main ridge to the
Datil and then south down Diamond Creek as far
as our next camp. For there now remained of the
formidable forest we had attacked in May only a
block of country to the west, stretching from the
Datil on the north to McKnight Creek on the south.
And we planned to work this territory, so far as
possible, from the canyons where the baseline was
td run. Our camps would be along the streams,
which flowed in a generally westerly direction and
which cut the timbered area for the most part into
easily accessible strips and wedges. Diamond
Creek was the northernmost of these main water-
courses and a first camp site was chosen near the
trap corral of the Diamond Bar outfit, some four
miles from the canyon head.
The journey of the baseline to this point was made
memorable by an exploit of Wetherby's which
boosted that young man's popularity higher than it
had ever before been registered by the thermometer
of camp sentiment.
The crew was running the line down a narrow ra-
vine that breaks west from the main range a little
this side of the forest boundary. It was late after-
noon, nearly time to knock off work. Conway
walked fifty yards or more in advance of the others.
Wetherby, at the moment, was helping Wallace with
the plane table.
At a sudden unusual sound in the brush to the
left, Wallace turned aside to investigate. The next
158 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
instant he came back at full speed, eyes popping and
legs working wildly. Ten yards behind him, snarl-
ing and fighting the brush, lumbered a full grown
cinnamon bear. He was in a towering rage, caused
very evidently by a steel trap and eight feet of heavy
chain broken from its fastening that trailed from
his prisoned hind foot. Had it not been for this
drag he would doubtless have caught Wallace be-
fore the Forest Assistant had gone twenty feet.
For an angry bear, despite his awkward looking
mode of locomotion, can make astonishing speed
through the woods. As it was Wallace was able to
reach an oak tree and shinny up the trunk, which
was only about seven inches in diameter, before his
pursuer reached the bottom.
I suppose the theory was that no bear would climb
so small a tree — or perhaps the frightened youth
merely made instinctively for the nearest temporary
refuge. However that be the beast hesitated not at
all but began to ascend the trunk as swiftly as his
clanking, unwieldy burden would permit. He made
hard work of it. His roars of rage proclaimed the
pain he must have felt as the ruthless steel claws
of the trap in which he had been caught pulled and
twisted at his torn flesh. But he worked gradually
though slowly upward. He would, without doubt,
have succeeded in reaching his quarry had not a
timely interruption occurred.
When Horace first saw Wallace with the bear in
HORACE "COMES BACK" 159
his wake emerging at high speed from the brush,
he at once followed a natural and compelling im-
pulse to climb a tree, from which position of van-
tage he watched the subsequent proceedings. Con-
way, hearing the commotion, but too far away to
discern its cause, ran back toward the others. He
was halted as he neared by a warning cry from
Wetherby, then he too sought a convenient oak.
This was the situation as the infuriated bear be-
gan to climb the tree after Wallace, who carried no
weapons, and was therefore compelled to rely upon
his agility alone for safety. As soon as he saw that
the bear intended to follow him he moved as far out
on a limb as he could, hoping that at the worst the
animal, if it persisted in its attempt to reach him,
would precipitate both to the ground and give him
a possible chance to escape.
The three men, each in his individual tree, watched
the bear's progress intently in a state of high sus-
pense. As it became increasingly evident that the
beast would succeed in reaching him, Wallace cried
Wetherby immediately began to descend from the
limb on which he sat, calling out at the same time
to his beleaguered chief:
1 ' Sit tight, Wally ! I '11 be over in a minute ! ' '
"What 're you trying to do, Wetherby I" cried
Con way, as he realised the other's purpose. "Don't
be a fool!"
160 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
Horace did not even answer. The only one of the
trio to carry a revolver, he was bent on making his
much-maligned Colt justify its existence.
But to go gunning for an angry bear not ten feet
off the ground with a 38-calibre pistol is distinctly
a risky business. Wallace as well as Conway en-
deavoured to turn Horace from the attempt.
"Go on back, Wetherby," yelled his superior, as
the axeman approached. ' ' Shoot him from the tree.
He'll get you sure now, if you wound him!"
"I haven't enough cartridges to waste any," was
all Horace vouchsafed as he stepped directly under
the tree and took careful aim at the beast above.
A shot sounded and the bear's head snapped to
one side as if struck sharply with a club, his great
muscles relaxed and he slid scramblingly down,
in the descent his heavy claws ripping long, deep
grooves in the bark of the tree.
Horace circled about, excited but alert, waiting
to put five more soft-nosed bullets if necessary in
the carcass of the wounded animal. A moment's
inspection showed that they were not needed. The
first ball, entering behind the ear, had penetrated
the thin coating of muscle there, cracked through
the skull, and pierced the brain. It was a perfect
"I didn't know you had it in you, Horace,"
grinned Conway, as he slapped the delighted marks-
man on the back. And Wallace, with a silence more
HOEACE "COMES BACK" 161
eloquent than a torrent of thanks, grasped his hand
and wrung it fervently.
We heard all about the episode in camp that night.
Later we examined the carcass of the slain bear and
speculated on whose trap it was from which he had
so nearly escaped. We refought the fight all over
again a dozen times, comparing and criticising the
versions of the three envied participants.
Horace's courageous part in the affair did not
lack spirited and enthusiastic chroniclers in Con-
way and Wallace. He became a hero over night,
and from this moment could be dated Wetherby's
complete rehabilitation in the eyes of the camp. We
remembered now that since "the renaissance," as
we dubbed the altered attitude first observed in him
after that night alone in the forest, Horace had been
a different person. Indeed, this encounter with the
bear was not entirely responsible for our change of
heart toward him. But it needed some such con-
clusive evidence of nerve to finally crystallise the
camp's changing opinion of the once despised axe-
man. He proved himself by this exploit, as Conway
put it, a "regular fellow."
We moved to Diamond Creek on Thursday morn-
ing, the first of September. For a night or so be-
fore leaving we had missed old man Reed. We
could not understand why he had so abruptly ceased
his evening visits. I wondered if perhaps it might
not be in some way connected with his partner, Jake.
162 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
Our trail ran by his ranch and some of us were for
stopping on the way and bidding him "adios."
But Brown threw cold water on the suggestion.
"Better not bother with the old man," he cau-
tioned. "Ef he didn't come over the last few
nights he must-a-had his reasons. He takes streaks
It was as well that we decided to abide by Brown's
advice. As we neared the ranch we heard at regu-
lar intervals the sound of shooting — two shots at a
time. We wondered what it might portend.
As we came within sight of the weather-beaten
log cabin the mystery was solved. The Hermit sat
alone in a particularly dignified attitude on his front
steps, puffing slowly on his corn-cob pipe and gazing
straight before him. Every once in so often he laid
down his pipe, raised a huge demijohn to his lips,
and drank long and lovingly. Then he carefully set
down the demijohn in its turn, and, emitting several
ear-splitting whoops, picked up a shotgun and
emptied both barrels into the innocent empyrean.
The pipe and the dignified mien were thereupon re-
sumed, until a recurrent impulse impelled a repeti-
tion of the performance we had witnessed.
As we passed out of sight he was just coming into
action for the fifth time. And the last I recall of
the Hermit is the sound of his unleashed voice in
my ears, the sight of his white-haired, gaunt person
posed erectly on his threshold, eyes aflame and shot-
gun thrust menacingly toward the zenith.
HORACE "COMES BACK" 163
"Is that one of the old man's streaks ?" I in-
quired of Brown.
"He's drunk!" replied the latter, indifferently, as
if that was sufficient explanation of any and all phe-
nomena, however strange and unexpected. And,
when you come to think of it, I suppose it is.
ON DIAMOND CREEK
FOB several days the weather had been cloudy and
unsettled. But on the morning when we woke in
our first Diamond Creek camp a complete overnight
change had occurred.
It was crisp, cool and clear — a true fall day — one
of those heartening, out-of-doors, woodsey mornings
when the dew on the grass sparkles mischievously,
when the sun strikes the earth with a warm caress
that quickens the electric air, when the sharp, sweet
song of birds keeps time to the mounting song in
the blood of the just-awakened camper.
As the first soft spring evening of the year some-
times will linger in the mind, noteworthy by con-
trast with its forgotten fellows, so this September
day though no different, perhaps, from those that
followed, still stands unique for me, still has its own
niche in the galleries of recollection.
From this time on to the end the weather was
perfect. They were halcyon days these, cloudless,
and with the crystal clearness of atmosphere and
the tonic snap and sparkle of frost that autumn in
the mountains means. The damp, sweet balsam
odour of the firs, the cheery, crackling fires of pitch-
Packsaddles were cinched on the burros and they were tied to a
tree or shrub until their turn came to be packed
FIRST CAMP ON DIAMOND CREEK
A typical camp in an open stand of yellow pine
ON DIAMOND GREEK 165
pine round which we gathered with tingling fingers
and glowing faces, the yellow and crimson leaves,
dropping one by one, the little searching wind that
came and whispered secrets of the northern caves
from which it sprang — everything seemed new, and
fresh, and wonderful.
Yet there was too, when I think of it, a shade of
something like sadness through it all, a vague, un-
easy longing for similar days long past gone to re-
turn no more, a something dimly reminiscent in our
emotions, in the smell of burning wood, in the sense
of shortening days, in flaming sunsets or the sharp,
clarion call of a cold dawn. There came over one a
melancholy at times, that strange nostalgia of the
spirit which for want of clear cause we assign al-
ways to something concrete and tangible that we
have known or loved.
My thoughts were wont at this time to wander
forlornly to scenes wherein turkey and mince pie
were prominent, where chestnuts and popcorn and
great, cheery, open fires and smiling, kindly faces
appeared — scenes and faces once seen so often in
other times, and now so very well, so very clearly
remembered after the intervening flurry of years !
Our runs in the Diamond Creek country were
ideal. An initial climb of six or seven hundred feet
from the base line in the canyon — a climb to rouse
the heart and warm one's blood — and we found our-
selves on wide, level, flower-studded mesas, beauti-
ful in the bright sunshine as plains of asphodel.
166 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEB
Here was the coveted Diamond Bar range. Cat-
tle, fat and sleek, cropped leisurely at the lush
grama grass. Cows, with wide-eyed, awkward
calves, long horned, inquisitive steers, lowering,
self -sufficient, massive bulls. "We ran through them
every day, and whereas on the east side we had
found the cattle small and lean, wild as deer and
scarcer, here they seemed to mind our presence not
at all. Mostly they merely raised their heads and
glanced indifferently at us as we passed, or if in our
line lumbered slowly off as we came up, to turn at
a little distance and gaze with mild curiosity at the
rare phenomenon of a man on foot.
On these mesa runs, in scenes so strange to us,
so different from the barren east side or the heavily
timbered top of the range, a curious feeling of un-
reality came over one at times. It was as if field
and flower, the blue, brilliant sky, and the wild life
about, were one and all mere creations of our sub-
jectivity, with no distinct identity of their own,—
mere strokes and shades in a masterpiece made
solely for our peculiar pleasure.
Out in the morning, then lunch, then home again,
miles over the level, flower-studded mesa. That was
our daily schedule. Only, perhaps, on our return
run we would encounter, instead of cattle, a herd of
white tail deer. Sometimes they heard our care-
less approach and we caught merely a glimpse of
flashing bodies ascending some distant slope with
incredible leaps. Or we might come upon them un-
ON DIAMOND CEEEK 167
awares, in a shady grove or thicket, when often we
were able to approach to within fifty paces or less
before alarm was taken.
Once as I was sighting the compass an eight-
pronged buck, followed by six does, jogged past.
They were headed for water, on a cattle trail not a
hundred feet away. They seemed in the last stages
of exhaustion, heads down, shoulders sagging for-
ward, ears drooping forlornly, for all the world like
a row of tired hounds.
At a whistle the seven deer whirled toward me
and stood erect, motionless as if frozen. Then sud-
denly what a scattering and springing! What a
clatter of stones and a darting of tawny forms
through the startled air ! What a sudden and com-
plete vanishment of those same weary looking ani-
mals I had so pitied a moment before.
Probably one of the chief reasons, if not the chief,
for our enjoyment of our work at this time was the
excellent physical condition in which we found our-
selves. The week's rest on top, following our exer-
tions on the east side, had given us a chance to
recuperate. This, with the bracing change of air
and temperature, the sound sleep and the good food
since, had made us thoroughly fit, overflowing with
strength and spirits. The daily cruise was child's
play for us now. Our legs were like steel springs,
our wind perfect. We seemed never to tire, never
to exhaust the reservoir of energy.
Day after day we fairly romped through forty,
168 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISEE
section and township. Three camps were made on
Diamond Creek, five miles apart. Then over the
divide we went to Black Canyon, next on the south,
and up that to the head. For we had to tie on to
the work at the top, near Reed's place, which we
had left so shortly before.
Black Canyon was considerably larger than
Diamond Creek. Also, the fishing was better.
Speckled trout in hundreds leaped through its shal-
low ripples or lurked in the depths of its over-
Bert and Bob Moak were our star fishermen.
They were always at it. Bert was accused of in-
venting a method of automatic dish washing so that
he might be free to dash off up or down stream di-
rectly after meals. And Bob one day made a six-
mile run in five hours in order to fish till supper
time. We always held that he must have slid down
a five-hundred-foot bluff to the river to accomplish
While the rest of us were content to do our fish*
ing on Sundays, we did not hesitate to help dispose
of the trout when they were caught. And so plenti-
ful were they that we had a mess practically every
morning and evening while camped in the canyon.
That this consideration added materially to our list
of daily blessings need not be stated — at least, to
one who has been some time greeted on his return
from a long hike with the appetizing sight of fish
ON DIAMOND CEEEK 169
frying in the pan, or who has waked in a cold, in-
vigorating dawn with the delicate odour of hissing,
sputtering trout in his nostrils.
LOST MAN'S PARK
NEAR this camp on Diamond Creek lay the famous
Lost Man's Park, a little open, tree girdled hollow,
wherein, marked by a surmounting pile of stones and
a rude wooden cross, rest the bones of the wanderer
from whose misfortune the spot derives its name.
The dead man's story is unknown as would, in-
deed, but for an accident, have been the fact of his
death. Some years ago two cowpunchers on the
trail of a maverick literally stumbled over the bleach-
ing skeleton of this unfortunate. He appeared to
have been seated, leaning against a great fir tree,
when the end came. No clue was found to his iden-
tity, nothing to indicate the manner of his death.
Only an old gun, a Eip Van Winkle relic that fell
to pieces when touched, and a hunting knife, bone
handled, lay on the ground nearby. That was all.
But in spite of — or perhaps because of — this pau-
city of material, legends sprang up about the Lost
Man, as legends will, and grew and were repeated
with constantly accumulating details until they came,
in one form or another, to be believed by every one.
Perhaps the most popular version recited how the
stranger, coming from afar, some said in search of
gold, others of an enemy whom he had sworn to
LOST MAN'S PARK 171
slay, entered the mountains one blustering fall with
inadequate supplies, and a little later, lost and ill,
seated himself at the foot of the huge tree which
forms now his titanic tombstone and there died, his
purpose unfulfilled and his heart bitter within him.
This, averred the more imaginative, was the reason
why the spirit of the Lost Man stole forth still some-
times in the dead of night and pursued once more
through the dark corridors of the forest the unfin-
ished quest of days gone by.
The park was a pleasant place by daylight, under
the golden sun. A court of waving grasses and wild
flowers of many colours, a bower of sweet odours
and bright hues, a rare spot to lie and dream, in the
hours when work was over, gazing lazily upward
at the blue circle of sky with its dark border of
softly stirring tree tops. The tiny glade had a
charm. We spent all our leisure moments there.
And our words and thoughts were ever of life — as
was natural — and of living things, with never, or
rarely, a glance or a passing mention for that
menacing hint of mortality, the stony grave close by.
It was otherwise at night. A few of us strolled
over after supper on the evening of the day we made
camp. "We sat on a little rise overlooking the park
and built a fire for warmth, though the night was
more than ordinarily mild. But the firelight in our
eyes blew out the soft winking stars and I moved
away before long, a little distance from the flames,
the better to enjoy the scene.
172 THE LOO OF A TIMBER CRUISEE
The stars were glorious, clear and diamond bright.
The sky seemed truly alive. It quivered and glowed
with an intense, coruscant energy. How could any
one ever feel lonely, I wondered, with such an in-
finitude of sparkling, vibrant bodies all about, all
parts and partakers of the same great life, all dwel-
ling, forever and ever, in the same universe that
holds our tiny, insignificant selves.
As darkness grew deeper we could see little or
nothing of the park below us, only at times a faint
glimmer of light showed the position of the Lost
Man's grave. A little later the moon rose, slow and
serene, swimming sensuously in the low hung mists.
And as she rose faint outlines of light trembled in
the even blackness of the forest round about. And
like a face forming, feature by feature, from the
folds of a velvet curtain, there shone more clearly
each moment the glade of glistening grass, tree
ringed on every side, and plain and plainer we saw
the dim cairn of stones, the wooden cross at its foot,
and the great fir, the wanderer's tombstone, at its
Then in the mystical half light a spell was woven.
Objects took on strange shapes, became wavering
grotesques, fanciful and unfamiliar. The tall
bearded grass was gone. Instead there shimmered
a shaking field of silver spears, like the weapons of
the Sons of the Dragon's Teeth bursting magically
from the earth. And on every side, hemming them
in, awaiting fearfully their onslaught, loomed in the
LOST MAN'S PARK 173
shadows a horde of monsters born from the im-
passive trees by the enchantment of the hour.
Only the mound of stones with the wooden cross
at its foot remained, dim and deathlike, but un-
changed. And the great fir at its head, the wan-
derer's tombstone, stood as of old in massive dig-
nity, maintaining an age-long vigil over the poor
bones entrusted to its care.
The ancient tree stood still and grave and silent,
but it was a silence pregnant with deep things. It
held the wisdom of the centuries in its brooding im-
mobility; it hinted, somehow, of old, primordial mys-
teries, locked deep in its slumbrous heart.
But, hush — look! What is that? Something,
pale and dim, but something, nevertheless, detaches
itself from the great fir and creeps slowly along the
grave. It straightens and stands swayingly at the
foot of the cairn of stones. It faces us, ghostlike
arms outstretched in the form of a cross. It ad-
vances, step by gliding step.
My hair stirred from the roots, a rippling shudder
ran along my spine. My mouth was dry. I wanted
to yell, but could not. For the moment I was dumb,
palsied, petrified! And still, step by sliding step,
the shining spectre neared.
A hoarse cry from behind me broke the spell.
The others by the fire, which now had burned nearly
out, perceived the apparition.
I glanced around. They were staring, wild-eyed,
white faces gleaming in the faint light from the dy-
174 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
ing embers, toward the figure that still approached
with its horrible, rhythmic glide.
Frazer leapt suddenly to his feet. His revolver
glinted as he threw it into line.
"Stop, or 111 shoot !" he cried, loudly. Through
his voice ran an odd quaver.
But the figure in white glided slowly nearer.
I heard a crashing of branches and the thud of
feet on soft ground. Frazer was alone by the fire,
the others gone. Hesitating no longer, he fired three
quick shots in the general direction of the phantom.
A yell came from the sheeted figure, hitherto as
silent as death.
"What'n hell are y' doinT' it ejaculated vio-
lently. "Try in' to shoot a feller up jest fer makin'
a little fun!"
The relief was sudden and nerve-destroying. I
broke into a hysterical laugh and rolled over on the
ground. Frazer, with a face of thunder, threw down
his weapon and ran toward the ghost. I had never
seen him so thoroughly incensed before.
* ' You damned idiot ! " he roared. ' ' I didn 't know
you were quite such a fool ! I ought to fire you
right now! Are you plumb crazy or what!"
Brown pulled the tent flap from his head. He en-
deavoured to assume an air of injured dignity with
a somewhat ludicrous result.
"Don't see what y' want to make such a fuss
over," he grumbled. "I was jest a playin' ghost.
LOST MAN'S PARK 175
Why, doggone it," he finished, angrily recalling
Frazer's target practice, "y' might-a kilt me!"
Frazer turned abruptly and walked away. And
though the others of us often referred thereafter
to the ghost of Lost Man's Park, I have never since
that evening heard a word on the subject from the
AT THE DIAMOND BAR
ON Black Canyon, half way up, we camped near the
home ranch of the Diamond Bar Cattle Company.
The owner was a wealthy easterner whom ill health
had driven to this charming exile where he now spent
the better part of each year from choice.
True to the traditions of the cattlemen, he kept
open house for wayfarers. So we were not sur-
prised upon our arrival to receive a dinner invita-
tion. We accepted with pleasure — and not till then
did we learn from one of the cow-punchers that a
party of six Silver City girls, campers en route to
the top of the range, were also to attend. This was
rather perturbing. We had for so long been guilt-
less of participating in anything remotely approach-
ing a social function that we were nervous. Our
available wardrobes, too, were hardly calculated to
lend distinction to the affair.
However, there was nothing to do but fix our-
selves as fetchingly as possible and go.
Frazer, the camp barber, trimmed each untidy
shock of hair into a semblance of neatness. Beards
and moustaches in various styles were removed.
There was a great spattering of water, a prolonged
AT THE DIAMOND BAE 177
scrubbing of faces and hands, a searching and re-
searching through dufflebags and beds in the feeble
hope that somewhere might be found a garment or
so which we had neglected to wear entirely thread-
At last we were dressed as well as our resources
permitted. Bob Moak and Frazer led the proces-
sion out of camp, being voted the most effectively at-
tired. Bob sported two large green patches in the
seat of his overalls, and Frazer had unearthed a
faded red cravat, the only bit of neckwear in the
crowd if one excepts Brown's spotted cotton hand-
kerchief. We others following were remarkable
rather for our unwonted flow of high spirits than for
any decorative qualities we possessed.
The party, notwithstanding, was a huge success.
Once in the house we forgot ourselves and our
clothes completely. Previous misgivings, the fear
that for lack of practice we should not know how to
behave in the presence of women, vanished instantly.
We enjoyed every minute of the evening. It was
really an astonishing treat for us.
The girls appeared to our sharpened senses beau-
tiful as sirens and witty and charming beyond de-
scription. There was an indescribable zest to every-
thing. Never had lights shone so brightly nor
music sounded so sweet nor lace and ribbons and
dainty faces and silver laughter seemed so mar-
vellously satisfactory, so altogether delectable.
And the dinner !
178 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
I think I have stated somewhere that Bert was a
noted cook and Frazer was unusually generous in
his commissary. Whenever it was possible the
packers had killed a beef on the range, settling after-
ward with the owner, and had kept us as a rule well
supplied with fresh meat. As camp fare goes we
lived unusually well.
But to-night — it was a different thing altogether.
As we tasted the strong, well seasoned soup ; de-
molished heaping platters of fresh vegetables and
fruits, revelled in fried chicken and cranberry sauce
and sweet potatoes and salad, we thought for the
sake of contrast of our beans, canned goods and
bacon and shuddered deliriously.
After the feast we talked and sang and played de-
lightful, foolish games, till the big, rough-ceiled,
log-walled hall echoed with shouts that shook the
roof and even the merry stars seemed to look down
in wide eyed astonishment at the tremendous
It was a wonderful night, a magic night!
And — believe it or not — the life of the gathering,
the feature of features, was — Horace! He cer-
tainly made a hit ! The upright, broad shouldered
figure, the tanned features, the worn, stained clothes
that he wore, appealed at once by their picturesque-
ness. He was before long the centre of a circle
of admiring femininity and handling his admirers
like a general.
Since his regeneration, Horace Had gladdened our
AT THE DIAMOND BA'K 179
hearts by a growing tractability, earnestness, and
modesty. No vainglorious matter now passed his
lips. Nor did he, as formerly, attempt upon every
possible occasion to rectify the frequent and lament-
able errors of his companions. He talked less and
performed to better purpose. He seemed anxious
to be judged by his actions rather than by his words.
But it soon became evident this evening that our
comrade was fast losing his hard won self-control.
The flattering attention of the girls began to exert
its inevitable effect.
Horace struggled for a time. He set his jaw hard,
casting nervous glances at the rest of us, and man-
fully resisted the temptation to expand, till a par-
ticularly pretty girl looked ravishingly up into his
eyes and pleaded :
"Oh, Mr. Wetherby, do tell us something of your
trip. You boys must have had such stunning ad-
And Horace fell. Nay ! rather he leapt to destruc-
tion— succumbed gloriously and spectacularly! He
threw himself into the pleasant task of painting for
his fair auditors our life as it was not, but should
be, with entire abandon. His language was marvel-
lous ! There was a veritable conflagration of rhet-
oric fanned by a whirlwind of wonderful ideas.
Never was heard so impetuous a stream of dramatic
narrative, never were there such word pictures
as our prodigy painted, and never, needless to say,
were statements singly and collectively further from
180 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISER
facts than those so successfully offered by him that
Upon his canvas we saw the woods transfigured,
the life we lived idealised, ravishing in its care free
joyousness. We recognised our own faces, drawn
one by one, or grouped chorus-like, a background for
the heroic image of Horace himself, which stalked,
debonair and calmly efficient, through the stirring
There is no question about it, Horace was good!
The utter unleashing of his imagination made him
convincing. That was his power, he lived his
words. Even we who knew him fell under his spell,
in a way, half believing for a moment in the truth
of the absurdities we heard, half accepting as facts
what reason branded indubitably as fiction.
At the same time we wondered rather sheepishly
at the phenomenon, and were somewhat ill at ease.
Here was our erstwhile incompetent emerging from
the chrysalis of his mediocrity and taking with
scarcely an effort the centre of the stage. We others
were for the time being mere lay figures in his
drama, subordinated to the moment, and feeling, if
the truth must out, supremely unimportant and in-
significant. Indeed, as the situation developed, it
seemed rather incredible that we should have ever
ventured to criticise this prince of romancers, to
judge and condemn by our narrow views and
straitened standards so evident a genius.
Even after it was all over, the last song sung, the
PREPARING FOR THE PARTY
Frazer acted as barber for the rest of the outfit
Sunday mornings were devoted to a general cleaning up
AT THE DIAMOND BAR 181
last "good night" said, as we walked campward up
the creek, we could not quite adjust ourselves to the
situation. We looked curiously, now and again, at
Horace. He strode along vigorously, proudly, head
in air, rapt and still intoxicated by the luxury of
self expression and the incense of unstinted admira-
Each one of us was silent, busy with his own
thoughts. Horace's mood remained undesecrated,
his triumph and his happiness complete, without a
The next day, Sunday, Horace was still under the
spell of the events of the preceding night. His ela-
tion had not perceptibly ebbed. He was in far bet-
ter conceit with himself than we had been used to
seeing him of late. We wondered whether it might
not become necessary to tone him down a little be-
fore he could be trusted to work to advantage. But
as it happened, fate spared us that task.
Most of us had washing to do, that morning, so
we walked down the creek about a half mile to where
we might precede the laundry work by a swim. The
water was ice-cold and no one stayed in very long.
Horace, a good swimmer, was the last to acknowl-
edge its chilling effect. He even ventured on some
mild "horsing," as one by one we others, blue lipped
and shaking, sought the bank and hastily donned our
We were nearly dressed and Horace, for our de-
lectation, was demonstrating the "crawl" in about
182 THE LOO OF A TIMBER CRUISER
two feet of water, when the first of six horses, walk-
ing single file, turned the bend a scant forty feet
below us and advanced leisurely up the trail. Upon
the horses, riding astride, were the six girls from
Silver City, the late guests of the Diamond Bar.
Snapping twigs and the soft "thud, thud" of hoofs
first drew our attention to the approaching caval-
One glance was enough for us! We glided, si-
lent as wraiths, into the timber. At the same mo-
ment Horace, emerging from the water, beheld the
"Back!" he cried hoarsely, his anguish manifest
in an unnatural intonation.
"Back! Don't you see I'm here?"
Nobody ever knew what possessed the unhappy
youth to propound that particular query. It was
superfluous, to say the least. Probably for that rea-
son it remained unanswered and obtrusive — as if
suspended in the chilly air.
Looking neither to the right nor to the left the
fair campers passed sedately by with no sign of
recognising Horace's existence. Only, as they rode
slowly out of sight, the pretty girl whom Horace
had especially favoured crushed a handkerchief to
her face and I could swear I saw her shoulders shake
Poor Wetherby, after his first awful outburst, re-
lapsed into a complete and desperate silence. By a
timely contortion he had lowered himself in the shal-
AT THE DIAMOND BAR 183
low stream so that only his head and neck were
above water. And from the chattering of his teeth
and the bluish cast that crept over his countenance
we surmised that his enforced submergence was any-
thing but pleasant.
It is safe to say, however, that the discomfort of
body was nothing to the agony of mind that our
squire of dames endured. The ignominy he felt,
following so closely upon last night's triumph, was
bitter. Indeed, so evident was Horace's distress
that we forbore to dwell upon the incident at any
great length. We felt — and as time proved, rightly
— that we would have no further fault to find with
Horace on the score of arrogance or militant self-
IN two more camps we had accounted for everything
along Black Eiver. There now remained only the
block of country between us and the North Fork
of the Mimbres and a strip beyond extending to the
tier of sections worked north from McKnight.
The continental divide, by the way, runs through
here between the watersheds of the Mimbres and the
Gila, into which Black Eiver flows. The Mimbres
drains to the east on the Atlantic slope of the di-
vide, and though the stream vanishes completely in
the desert near Deming its indicated course is toward
the Gulf of Mexico. The Gila drains the Pacific
slope of this portion of the range, and eventually,
through a junction with the Colorado, its waters find
their devious way into the Gulf of California.
The country between Black Canyon and the North
Fork was too great to cover by end to end runs from
each canyon, the method we had been working on,
so we camped on the divide for a time at a deserted
ranch called the Meson Place, where there was an
From this location we were able to work the more
inaccessible parts of our unfinished block before
HANK HOTCHKISS 185
dropping to the bed of the North Fork for the final
spurt. We were visited here by Supervisor Johns
from Silver City, and Pooler, an Assistant District
Forester from Albuquerque, on a tour of inspection.
Eandolph, the ranger from Fierro, accompanied
them and stayed with us until we went in, but the
others only stopped over night.
At " Meson 's" we ran across Hank Hotchkiss, a
former soldier and scout now well-known locally as
hunter and trapper.
When we visited his camp for the first time we
found the old woodsman engaged in the novel pas-
time of teasing a huge Mexican eagle that had just
been caught, oddly enough, in one of his smaller
traps. The bird was tied to a tree with a rope
about five yards long, which gave it a chance to ex-
ercise after a fashion.
We asked the trapper if he intended to tame his
pet, and he laughed.
"It can't be did, not to my knowledge, leastways/7
he stated. "I kep' one once for five years an' he'd
fight me just as quick when I let him go as when
I caught him. They's queer critters, that's a fact.
Did you ever cut one of 'em up? No I Well, they
got an eye nigh as big as the rest of their head put
together, an' as for brains, they hain't got more'n
enough to fill a 22 cartridge. I don't believe they
got sense for anything but to fight. That's all they
is to them!"
He tapped the captive eagle on the head as he
186 THE LOG OF A TIMBEE CEUISEE
spoke, and the bird, glaring angrily, struck at him
with its sharp beak and seized the edge of his shoe
in its great talon with such strength that the claw
sank through the leather and could with difficulty
"Looky there now," said Hank; "he almost got
me that time. Jest like he took a-holt of Spot, my
hound, the other day."
We begged for details.
" 'Twas pretty cute," chuckled Hank. "Hen-
nery— th' eagle — was eatin' on a rabbit I throwed
him, an' he seen Spot was a watchin' him kind-a
close. So he jest walked away a few steps an' per-
tended he was through with th' meat. Spot hops
in an' begin eatin' an' Hennery he give a jump an'
lit plumb on the middle of Spot's back. I thought
the dawg was a goin' t' turn hisself inside out a'
tryin' to git him off. When Hennery finally come
loose he took along a piece of meat about so big right
out of Spot's back. Since then they hain't been
th' best of friends, but Spot alms gives way to th'
Besides the eagle, Hank had caught during the
summer three mountain lions, a lobo wolf, two brown
bears a black bear and a huge silver tip grizzly. He
showed us the pelts, which were in poor condition
and worth but little. The animals had been either
in the process of shedding or their hair, just coming
in, was short and of inferior quality.
The trapper would have fared ill from a financial
HANK HOTCHKISS 187
standpoint were it not for the bounty which cattle-
men offered, usually from ten to twenty dollars for
an adult lion, wolf or bear, which are all great cattle
"I've shore had hard luck," he complained, "I'd
orter had oodles of skunks, foxes an' bob cats in my
little traps, but by gum, I been a catchin' my dawgs
in 'em more'n anathin' else. That there ornery
Spot would travel twenty miles to git into a trap.
Every time I go out I find him a howlin' in one of
"The other night he went out huntin' an' never
showed up in the mornin'. I knowed right away
what had happened. Soon's I got to my first traps,
down on Squaw Canyon, thar was Spot, caught by
the foot and howlin' reel mournful. I took him out
an' beat him t'well I was plumb wore out, an' he
went off toward th' house lickity split. An' by gum,
afore I made the round of my traps I found the pore
fool caught in another trap. I give it up after that.
If that there's his idee of pleasure I figger tain't
goin' to do no good to try an' break him of it. Hit
remines me of th' time I caught an Injun. D'ye
ever hear tell o' that? No ! Well, I never seen him
myself, but I hearn tell of it afterwards. He shore
got in th' trap an' I was plumb pleased he got away
'fore I found him, becuz I could tell by th' way he'd
tore things aroun' there he'd a-been mighty hard t'
Continuing the score of his misfortunes, Hotch-
188 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
kiss averred that two bears had just lately pulled
loose from his big Number 4 trap by the rather shock-
ing expedient of twisting the prisoned foot off.
Some of us were inclined to doubt the truth of this
tale, but before we moved camp we had ocular proof
of its verity.
A trapper, if he can, visits his traps each morn-
ing. The chances a captured "varmint" has of es-
caping are thereby greatly lessened. But Hotch-
kiss worked alone and found it impossible to make
the round every day. So it happened that when he
started on a tour of inspection the following Sun-
day it was for the first time in two or three
He returned about two in the afternoon very much
worked up, and exhibited a gruesome trophy. It
was a gigantic bear's foot, torn off at the ankle.
"Looky there," he shouted, "whad-die tell you
all. I didn't git around to my Number 4 yestiddy nor
day before, an' I done missed th' biggest grizzly
you ever see. Here's what he left in the trap for
me, as a soovenoor!"
"Couldn't you track him?" we asked, after in-
specting the "souvenir" with considerable disrelish.
"Naw," replied Hank, "I tried to, but 'twarn't
no use. I see where he dug ground up all around
the trap twissin' his foot off, an' where he slid down
the side of the canyon after gitten' away. But
where he done run off down th' creek I couldn't find
no sign nowhar. He'll likely hole up some'rs till
HANK HOTCHKISS 189
lie gits Healed, or light out and leave the country
But as subsequent events proved the wounded
bear chose neither of these alternatives. Frazer,
crossing Little Eocky next day, some distance below
the trap, heard the loud complaint of a grizzly is-
suing from a small clump of brush, and, cautiously
investigating, discovered Hank's missing bear. The
animal was almost helpless from loss of blood and
it was no trick at all to put him out of his misery
with the Liiger automatic that the chief carried.
To his great astonishment Frazer found upon ex-
amination that the animal was minus not one foot,
but two ; the wound on the fore leg a recent injury,
the dry scar on the stump of the hind leg indicating
an older hurt.
Hank looked the carcass over carefully when we
went out to skin it.
"By gum," he declared, "I've caught this here
bear twice. Last year I got a hindfoot jist the size
of this here one in one of my traps, an' I'm satisfied
this is the critter left it there. Yes, sir, he's done
tore off two feet in them traps and now we got him
after all. Ain't that the outbeatinest thing y' ever
heerd tell on?"
Frazer later bought the two missing feet from
the trapper, who had kept them safe, and sent the
hide in to be mounted. It never made a very val-
uable piece of fur, but the chief would not take sev-
eral times its actual worth for the rug.
THE LAST CAMP
ON the sixth of October we pitched our first camp
in the North Fork. By the night of the fifteenth we
had covered our season's assignment. The Black
Eange was cruised and mapped. The summer, with
its pleasures, and its hardships, was over, and we
were free to hike for town.
The last day of cruising was, by a coincidence, the
opening day of the game season. Some of us were
anxious to try our luck on a whitetail buck, so for
this reason, and also because the trip in to Silver
promised to be an arduous one, Frazer decided to
stay over until the seventeenth. Those who would
might rest, the others could hunt.
Wallace, Conway, Wetherby, Jackson, and my-
self spent the holiday looking for deer, but with the
exception of the ranger we might just as well have
stayed in camp. Jackson left with his 25.20 carbine
directly after breakfast and reappeared about nine
o 'clock with a fair sized buck slung over his shoulder.
He and Brown skinned and dressed the deer and for
supper we had venison steak, the first I had ever
tasted. The meat was exceedingly tough, due
mainly, no doubt, to the fact that it was cooked so
soon after the death of the animal. As a matter of
THE LAST CAMP 191
fact, though, most of the natives, who can get both,
prefer good beef to venison any time.
We had a visitor that night. It was just dusk,
and Bert was putting the finishing touches on the
steak. We were startled on a sudden by a shrill
falsetto yell. It sounded like a woman in distress.
We listened breathless for a moment and the sound
was repeated, near at hand. Then out of the woods
along the trail there trotted a raw-boned white horse
with a very small rider in sombrero and leather
chaps, leading a pack mule by a tie rope. He waved
to us as he approached and Brown rose to his feet
with an exclamation of surprise.
"I'll be doggoned ef hit ain't that there crazy kid
brother of mine," he said; "what in thunder d'you
reckon he's a-doin', comin' out yere!"
The boy alighted somewhat stiffly, and proceeded
to answer the question himself.
"I done brought you all some veg 'tables," were
the first words he spoke, nodding to the pack on the
mule. "LeP Hillsboro this mawnin' at sun-up an'
bin ridin' ever sence."
"Chuck's ready!" yelled Bert, at this juncture;
"come an' git it 'fore I throw it out!"
Comment and inquiry were postponed for the time
being. We discovered later that little Johnny
Brown, who was just nine years old, had travelled
forty miles that day alone over the rough mountain
trails on the chance of striking our camp. His
father had allowed him to take the trip as a birth-
192 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
day gift. He wanted to go into Silver with us and
see the town, an ambition which, I'm glad to say,
was subsequently realised.
That evening we sat around the camp fire for the
last time. Mostly we sang and talked as usual, but
now and again a sudden silence would fall upon us
all, or a look of wistful gravity drop for a moment
like a veil over the features of one or another of
the men. One can not leave six months of his life
— full, vivid months like these — without a poignant
twinge of regret. The hardships we had undergone,
the companions with whom we had lived and worked
for half a year and whom we had learned to care for
and to trust, could not lightly be put behind us.
We would soon be scattered, most of us never to
meet again. The age-old ache of sadness at the
death of the familiar, at the ruthless approach of
change, the wrench of readjustment in leaving the
accustomed thing and making shift to face the un-
known future gave us many a sober thought. Be-
neath the excitement of the impending release was
a vague desire for continued captivity. We weakly
longed at times to keep on living as we had grown
used to living, enveloped by the web of accustomed
circumstances which we had at once yielded to and
In one of these pauses Frazer began to talk.
"I want to tell you fellows, " he said simply, " be-
fore we part, how much I appreciate personally your
attitude during the past season. I've worked on re-
THE LAST CAMP 193
connaissance since the Forest Service came into ex-
istence and before, and I've never known a more
difficult job than we have just completed nor met
a better spirit than you've put into yotar work.
We've run nearly a hundred and fifty miles of base-
line, cruised more than two hundred and fifty
thousand acres of timber and woodland and made
thirty-two camps, and all in the roughest and most
constantly difficult cruising country I've ever come
across. Primarily we are working for a living.
But in a sense we've gained something even more
important by this season's experience. We have
been developed and changed by our daily tasks,
and the habit of doing them, in spite of all obstacles,
honestly. We have broadened our point of view by
the associations made here in the woods and through
a better understanding of one another. We are dif-
ferent men from those who started out in May. I
want you to know that I feel deeply the value of it
all to myself and that I am certain that though we
separate now to the four winds the results of our
summer's experience will remain with each of us
We were rather surprised by this speech. Frazer
was essentially undemonstrative, and we knew that
he felt all and more than he had said. And his talk
gave us a sort of lonesome, empty feeling. When he
spoke of parting, it was as if some friend had died.
Never again, we thought, would there be such days
for any of us. Set we knew that we were the better
194 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CEUISER
for them, as the chief had said, and we knew that
it was all symbolical — that it was life ! There rang
in my brain a fragment of crude verse, penned by a
former reconnaissance man, that met the mood well :
"You're sorry," you say, "the season's done!"
"Me and you both," I say, replying,
"For now the leaves are yellow and dying;
Summer is dead, winter's begun,
And summer 's chance companions parted.
But this is the sure road each man takes ;
This is the law that nature makes ;
Why should we then be broken-hearted?"
On "get-a-way day" we woke early. Every one
was excited and in high spirits, now that the actual
move was upon us.
Before we left camp we had a grand bonfire of
old clothes and other articles whose usefulness was
outworn. Bert rescued a suit of silk pajamas which
some one had kept closely hidden during the trip, and
draped them upon "Babe," the burro colt, of whom
he had made a pet.
"It's the first time he's been to town," explained
Bert, "an' he'd oughta be dressed up, jest to show
'em he hain't ignorant of what's wore in the fast set
Babe 's reluctance to don evening clothes was over-
come with difficulty but, once attired, he trotted
proudly to the head of the pack train and kept his
suit on until he reached the corral in Silver City.
THE LAST CAMP 195
We got under way about nine-thirty and did not
stop walking for a minute, not even for lunch, till
night found us but twenty miles from Silver and
forty miles from our " place of beginning," as sur-
We were quite ready to make camp. Our trail
had been down hill all morning, to where the North
Fork joined the main stream of the Mimbres, and
over this fifteen-mile stretch the packers sent the
burros along at a trot. We were obliged to do be-
tween four and five miles an hour to keep up, and
considering the character of the trail and the weight
of our cruising shoes this was by no means a despi-
cable feat. Toward noon the canyon broadened and
the fertile valley of the Mimbres, with its ranches
and fruit farms, lay unrolled before us.
Eound we swung to the south, into a broad, level
highway, the famous North Star road, built by the
War Department in early days, and now most grate-
ful to our tired feet. Down the river by this pleas-
ant winding way we travelled for ten miles and
more. The pace was not now so swift. The loaded
burros were beginning to feel the effects of earlier
efforts as well as we, and to slacken speed accord-
At last we crossed the Mimbres and entered
Shingle Canyon, heading in a northwesterly direc-
tion. Up this incline we toiled, mile after uphill
mile, till darkness compelled us to halt. We made
196 THE LOO OF A TIMBER CRUISER
camp by throwing down our beds beside the road.
After a snack of bread and butter and hot coffee
we were glad to crawl into our blankets and forget
our weariness in sudden sleep.
Though we were just about played out that night
it spoke well for our condition that there was hardly
a limp or a stiffened muscle in camp next morning.
The remaining twenty miles between us and Silver
City, all on a fair road, we disposed of easily
At just one o'clock we entered town and swept
down Main Street — bells ringing, packers halloing,
and Babe in his gay attire stepping out in front like
a tiny drum major. It was a gay cavalcade, if ever
one existed. No wonder our entry created a stir in
town, that we were followed to the Tenderfoot cor-
ral, our destination, by the plaudits of the multitude
and a swarm of small boys who, after the manner of
their kind, sprang suddenly and miraculously from
WHILE the burros were being unpacked and unsad-
dled we went over to the office to report our return,
in case Supervisor Johns had not heard the excite-
ment caused by our entry.
As we entered the Supervisor's sanctum we saw
a huge man of about fifty years, dressed rather
formally and imposing to a degree, seated comfort-
ably in the largest chair in the room.
He smiled cordially as we entered.
" Gentlemen," said Johns, impressively, "permit
me to introduce Mr. Wetherby."
We gasped, as Horace, with an astonished cry of
" Father !" sprang forward and received the paren-
The gentleman turned toward us. His mien was
suave and dignified. He reminded us strongly of
Horace at his best. But in his eyes there shone that
which revealed the difference between them — a look
of conscious power, of hard-won wisdom. Where
the boy gazed out on life naively, and coloured it
with his own imaginings and thoughts, the shrewd,
objective glance of the older man penetrated to the
198 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
"I chanced to be in this part of the world yester-
day," he said, in a deep and resonant voice, "and
hearing that you boys would be coming in from the
wilds I just thought I'd run down and meet you all."
He paused, and that keen, searching eye swept us,
one after the other. It was like a suction cleaner
applied to the soul.
He smiled, and went on: "I need not say that
I am more than happy to meet my boy's friends.
And to have at the same time an opportunity of
talking over some matters in regard to the Forest
Service with your Supervisor — Mr. Johns, here. I
hope to detain him some time longer on the same
business. Afterward, I want you all to join me in
a small supper that has been planned for this even-
ing at Lin Foo's, which I am informed is more
generally known as 'The Chink's.' What do you
We accepted, of course. Then we scattered, to
bathe and dress. Some of us, too, had promised
ourselves the luxury of a call or so before dinner
At about five-thirty I cut short a wonderfully brief
visit and started for the restaurant where Mr.
Wetherby's affair was to take place. As I turned
the corner of Bullard and Main I ran full into
Horace and the pretty girl of the Diamond Bar ad-
They were walking quite close together, talking
cosily and confidentially. My sudden appearance
did not embarrass them in the least, though I felt
somewhat vaguely that it should.
"Why, how do you do?" exclaimed the girl, cor-
dially. "Off to the banquet, I suppose 1"
"Yes! Wetherby's told you the news, of course.
About his father, I mean."
"Bless you, I knew all about it yesterday! Mr.
Wetherby dined with us — he and Father are old
friends — and we planned the feast for you boys as
a sort of * welcome home.'
"Afterward you're all to come up to our house.
Some of the girls are coming over and we'll try
and amuse you for awhile, if you aren't too tired
out for such frivolity."
I expressed my individual pleasure at this ar-
rangement and continued on my way to the Chink's,
feeling a little as if I had stepped off the back plat-
form of a swiftly moving train. What a busy little
town Silver was!
We enjoyed the dinner immensely, with the pos-
sible exception of Bert. The uncompromising cook
plainly appeared to suspect the genuineness of the
hospitality of any father of Horace's. His sense of
propriety triumphed, however, over his uneasiness,
and the affair passed off in all respects pleasantly
With the coffee and cigars our host rose.
"I want to say a few words," he began, "before
you all leave for the dance which I understand is
planned in your honour.
200 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
" Your able Supervisor, " here he bowed graciously
to Johns, who seemed in rare good humour, "has
been giving me much valuable material regarding
your forests in general, and the Gila National Forest
in particular. And in consequence I have, I think
I may say, a much more comprehensive grasp of the
subject than I had before our conference. "
Here the speaker paused, while we all cheered.
He bowed and went on:
"I have learned much about the Gila, but nothing
which could be termed derogatory. It was with
pleasure, therefore, that I gathered from my son
to-day that he intends taking the examination of
Assistant Forest Ranger next week, which test, I
understand, some of you young gentlemen are also
"I speak of this now, among Horace's good
friends, because in the past, I have, like all fathers,
at times felt some misgivings in regard to his choice
of a career. And I realise that to the association
with you boys, his companions in camp and cabin —
to you and to his friends in Silver City — is due this
sudden resolve on his part, a resolve I have only
sympathy for, a resolve that will cause him, I trust,
to bear his part worthily in a world of men."
The speaker was visibly moved. His words held
the unmistakable ring of genuine feeling. We felt
a little uncomfortable, and, I'm afraid, a little sorry
for him. Horace a ranger ! Did he have it in him
to make good? It was hard to say. But then we
remembered his sudden change of heart, in mid-
season, and his subsequent vast improvement and,
most encouraging of all, the nerve and determination
he had shown. In the silent, bronzed youth who sat
with us to-night and the young man who had so
jauntily descended from the train six months be-
fore, there was a world of difference. Perhaps,
after all ...
Something of this line of thought seemed to be in
his father's mind as well as in ours.
"I know reconnaissance is trying work," he said;
" Horace's letters home bear internal evidence of
the hardships you have been through. But I think
it has helped him, as it doubtless helped all of you,
to a better understanding of a man's duties and
" Before closing, I want to read to you some verses
which my son sent home during the latter part of
your trip, and which I understand he has not shown
to any of you. I think they deserve a hearing and
a judgment at your hands."
He smiled — alone in his emotion. So Wetherby
had burst into poetry, without our knowledge ! We
prepared to suffer as the Senator cleared his throat
and began to read :
' ' They call our work ' Reconnaissance ' ;
A shorter, uglier word, perchance,
Would better serve the new man 's use
,To circulate his heartfelt views,
202 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
When first he strikes the higher hills
And suffers 'pedatory' chills!
"At first each separate 'forty' seems
A mile across! Each l corner* gleams
A beacon in a world of night;
The tyro thinks: 'This run's a fright,
I'll never see the camp again —
My kingdom for an aeroplane ! '
"His legs are stiff; his feet are sore,
He carries bruises by the score ;
Each day 's a crisis in his life,
An aeon of unending strife
And even as at night he dreams,
The cook, with breakfast ready, screams.
"He grumbles at the l rotten chuck/
And figures that he's out of luck,
Nurses a grouch exceeding glum
And wishes that he 'd never come ;
Like Job, his last despairing cry,
'I'll curse the Government, and die!'
"But as the season wears along,
He finds he's growing hard and strong,
The steepest peaks with glee attacks,
And gaily, skilfully he tracks
The elusive contour to its death
Nor pauses once to gasp for breath !
"His attitude is altered quite,
The work's a cinch, the world is bright,
He has a glance for towering trees,
For rocks and streams ; the mountain breeze
To him is musical, he'd fain
A-cruising all his days remain !
"And when he's ordered back to town
And on a district settled down,
He'll think: 'This ranger job's all right,
You get to sleep in sheets at night ;
But I'd sure like another chance
At working on reconnaissance ! ' '
It wasn't so bad as we had expected. As we
clapped and shouted our approval our host raised
his glass and said:
"I want to propose a toast, and, if you will for-
give me, I will ask Horace to respond to it. Gen-
tlemen: The Forest Service !"
There was a dead silence.
11 Where is Horace ?" asked his father, at last,
frowning. "I don't see him!"
Bert, from the foot of the table, answered.
"When you begin talkin' about him that-a-way,"
he drawled, "an' readin' that there pome, he gits
red in the face an' makes a quick sneak. Tole me to
tell you, if you asked, that he had to tel 'phone a gal
about some dance favours or sumthin'."
The frown faded from the magnate's face. He
smiled slowly, broadly, winked one eye shrewdly,
and bending forward over the table whispered con-
fidentially to the assembly:
1 ' I hereby amend that toast ! To the Forest Serv-
ice and its feminine well-wishers — present sweet-
204 THE LOG OF A TIMBER CRUISER
hearts and prospective wives — individually and col-
lectively: Here's luck!"
Mr. Wetherby's ready estimate and acceptance
of the situation made the hit of the evening.
And as we laughed and cheered and touched
glasses and sipped the Chink 's wine, we felt the
toast no empty form but a true symbol of our
thoughts and feelings. We saw the Service and its
loyal friends in that moment not as an abstract idea
or a romantic ideal, a thing to make pretty speeches
over, but as a living, working, hoping, striving body
filled with a single spirit, as a whole of human beings
composed like ourselves of good and of evil; as
thousands of companions, known and unknown,
scattered throughout the land, north and south, east
and west, whether officers or in the ranks, whether
young or old, whether in district or in camp or in the
midst of towns and great cities or like ourselves
"a-working on Reconnaissance ! "
AN INFOEMAL GLOSSAEY
Spanish for " good-bye. " Used commonly in the
Southwest. About the same as "Well, so long!" in
Webster calls it "the portion of a graduated instru-
ment, as a quadrant or astrolabe, carrying the sights
or telescope, and showing the degrees cut off on the
arc of the instrument. " Perhaps the description given
in the text may prove as enlightening as this definition
to the layman.
"A barometer the action of which depends on the
varying pressure of the atmosphere upon the elastic top
of a metallic box (shaped like a watch) from which the
air has been exhausted. An index shows the variation
of pressure." — Webster. This watch-shaped box, in-
stead of hours, had numbers marked on its face — from
one to twelve thousand, by thousands, — and spaces be-
tween to indicate each hundred feet in the thousand. It
had one hand, which we commonly set by screwing the
top of the case around, at the elevation our stations
recorded when starting to cruise. As we went up or
down thereafter this hand was supposed to record the
difference in altitude, computed on the variation of
atmospheric pressure, by moving around to the proper
space on the face of the instrument. I say "supposed
to ' ' because sometimes it didn 't work with the exactness
of a chronometer. I would like to record my impres-
sions of aneroids in general, and the one I carried in
particular, but space forbids — as does also the fear that
patient readers who have worked their way this far
might leave their perusal with an unpleasant impres-
When a tree trunk is sawed through, if you examine
the flat top of the stump you will see, starting with a
very small ring at the centre, a series of concentric
rings of varying width, some very small, some larger,
extending to the outer bark. By counting these rings
one can determine the age of the tree, since each one
represents a year's growth in the life of the tree.
The smaller rings (in width) indicate that the year
was a dry one and only a thin layer was added to the
trunk during the season. The wider rings indicate
that the year in which they grew was a favourable one
and that the tree thrived.
Spanish for "dance." Pronounced "bi-ley."
If there is any one who is unfamiliar with this common
woodsman's and surveyor's term they should learn at
once that it is a spot made on a tree trunk by slicing
off a piece of bark. Blazes are usually employed to
mark the course of a road, trail, or line through the
woods. A "witness" blaze, often with data cut on
its face with a "scribe," a little tool with a blade like
a. curved chisel, is usually put on one or more trees
called witness trees near any section corner or other
monument to indicate its position and what it stands
Bronc or Broncho
An unbroken animal. Usually a young animal not
past the ordinary age for breaking. When a horse or
burro has lived wild till long past this age, which may
be from two to four or five, or has escaped to the range
after being broken and lived for a time in a wild state,
he is called an "outlaw."
Pronounced in New Mexico " way-no." Spanish for
The Mexican substitute for the flat car, the moving
van, wagon or wheelbarrow. A beast of many bur-
dens. The best known test for self-control in the
Southwest. To give all the definitions of this little
beast that one might gather in the course of a day's
ride through the country where it is found would be
against public policy, so we will refer the reader to
the text of the story for further information on the
An instrument consisting of a straight rule set off in
inches and fractions thereof, with two arms attached
to it at right angles, one fixed at the end of the rule,
the other sliding along the rule. One of them is
placed on either side of the trunk of the tree, whose
diameter is thus shown on the rule. To "caliper" a
tree is to measure its diameter by means of the calipers.
"When this diameter is found at the height of four
and a half feet from the ground, called "breast
height," and the height of the whole tree is estimated,
the number of feet of timber board measure that the
tree will total when cut and made into lumber can be
learned from volume tables prepared for the purpose.
The cardinal points of the compass are the four
principal ones, East, West, North, and South.
"An instrument consisting of links, used by surveyors
in measuring land." — Webster. The chain commonly
used is Coulter's chain, which has one hundred links
each 7 9%0o inches in length, making the total length
four rods or sixty-six feet. Hence, a measure of that
The line in which a horizontal plane intersects a por-
tion of ground, or the corresponding line in a map or
The same thing as a cowboy, which the dictionary says
is * ' one of an adventurous class of herders and drovers
on the plains of the Western United States." Only
for some reason no puncher will answer to the epithet
" cowboy," while if you called him a herder or drover
he would undoubtedly grow vexed and perhaps "bow
up." Cowpuncher is much the most respectable word
of the lot. And "punching" cattle, it may be added,
is a very reputable and businesslike business nowadays,
whatever it may once have been. Also the adventure
element — in the sense of romance — is found chiefly
between the covers of works of fiction.
When used to describe a man who estimates the number
of board feet in standing timber on a given area, it
means the members of our reconnaissance party —
excepting the packers and the base line crew. In the
dictionary a colloquial meaning is given — "to cruise is
to wander hither and thither on land." That suggests
our work by antithesis, because we did exactly the
opposite, travelling always in a straight line by the
compass and only wandering, when we had the time
to wander at all, mildly and in our minds.
A bag of heavy canvas, cylindrical in shape and vary-
ing in size (fourteen inches in diameter and three feet
long being about the average dimensions) , open at one
end, with a draw string to close it by. The dufflebag is
used extensively by campers and woodsmen to carry
clothes and light personal effects. A substitute for a
trunk or traveller's handbag or suitcase. Its advan-
tage lies chiefly in the fact that it may be packed more
easily and weighs less than those articles.
A term used by miners and prospectors to describe
fragments of ore found on the surface of the ground
away from the vein outcrop.
A section, or square mile of land, contains six hundred
and forty acres, which in surveying and map work is
divided into sixteen squares of forty acres each,
called "forties" for short. A sixteenth part of a
section. Each side of a forty measures twenty chains,
or thirteen hundred and twenty feet.
An officer of the Forest Service who has studied tech-
nical forestry, passed the Civil Service examination
for the position and received an appointment in the
Service under that designation. W^iile the Forest
Assistant is theoretically supposed to chiefly plan with
and advise the Supervisor on matters involving silvi-
cultural problems or forest management, in actual
practice he generally undergoes a thorough appren-
ticeship in administrative work, timber cruising, and
the various branches of Forest Service field duty.
The position of Forest Guard is purely appointive,
usually for a period of three months. The appoint-
ment may be renewed by the Supervisor at his dis-
cretion. The duties of a guard are practically the
same as those of a Ranger, the chief distinction be-
tween the two positions lying in the precedence of
the latter by virtue of its superior grade in the Civil
The administrative field man of the Forest Service.
Each National Forest is administered from headquar-
ters by a Forest Supervisor. Under him are several
rangers, each living on a Ranger District in quarters
provided by the Forest Service and responsible for the
conduct of Forest Service business in his territory.
But the Ranger like the Forest Assistant is liable to
assignment for a time to some special project — such
as Reconnaissance, for example.
The man in charge of a National Forest, and responsi-
ble for its proper administration to the District For-
Pronounced "Hee-la," the Spanish G having the sound
of H. The name of a river in New Mexico, and of the
National Forest, covering over a million acres, whose
headquarters are at Silver City. It includes the Black
Range within its boundaries.
The male and female, respectively, of the Burro species.
A name which has been since the middle ages given
to many forms of staff or weapon, especially a pil-
grim's staff. In surveying, the Jacob's Staff is a
round, straight rod something like a broom handle,
about four feet long, pointed and iron-shod at the
bottom and having a socket joint at the top. When
stuck in the ground it is used instead of a tripod for
supporting a compass. This is the sense in which the
term is used in the story.
Boxes or canvas bags slung in pairs on a horse or burro,
one on each side, fastened to the horns of the pack-
saddle by leather loops, and used, as are panniers, to
pack articles more conveniently than could be done
Local name for syrup or molasses.
;The rough surface of a congealed lava stream. Vol-
canic rock, extremely hard and bad for the feet. This
rusty or dark coloured stuff, that looks like twisted old
iron and feels like — nothing else, covers a good part
of the surface of the ground on the plains and mesas of
From the Spanish word for " table." A high table-
land or plateau, usually with steep sides. A forma-
tion found everywhere in the Southwest.
One of one hundred and sixty-three areas set aside
to be administered under the United States Forest
Service for the permanent benefit of the people.
In surveying, a short distance measured at right angles
from a line actually run to some point or some object.
A mathematical instrument, circular or semi-circular
in form, with the angles marked off upon it, so that
the angle of any direction may be found by sighting
along a movable arm that may be turned at will about
Cattle on the Western ranges run practically wild and
are seldom caught or coralled except for branding or
when sold. One of the chief duties of the cowpuncher
is to ride about the range and catch every calf which
he sees unbranded. He then burns in the proper
brand which may be ascertained by examining the cow
with which the calf runs. This is called Range Brand-
ing, because the work is carried out on the range with-
out waiting for the general roundup.
Preliminary examination or survey. In Forestry it
includes the mapping of the country worked, an esti-
mate of the timber by species, and descriptive data
indicating the watershed system and logging possi-
bilities of the territory covered.
The general term, in Forestry, for the young growth
in a forest, including seedlings, saplings, and poles —
the names for the tree at various stages of early de-
velopment. Upon the character and quality of the
reproduction depends, as far as can be foreseen, the
nature of the future forest.
In surveying, one of the portions — of a square mile
each — into which the public lands of the United States
are divided. One thirty-sixth part of a township.
These sections are divided into quarter sections of one
hundred and sixty acres each, which may be pre-
empted under the homestead laws both on and outside
of National Forests.
Silvics or Silviculture
The study of trees and tree species, with their growth,
peculiarities and habitat, as parts of a forest.
A kind of soupy stew or stewy soup, containing
meat, vegetables, and the juices of same. Just what
the ingredients consist of is beyond the knowledge of
the writer. I think it must be a secret.
A stand of timber means the trees standing on a given
An interested onlooker at a poker game, who usually
gets himself included in the orders for drinks, thereby
maintaining the requisite degree of enthusiasm.
A sheet of heavy canvas some eight feet wide and four-
teen or sixteen feet long, used as a cover and outside
spread for the blankets which make up the camp bed.
A gambler whose appearance or protestations of reck-
lessness are out of all proportion to his ability to
redeem them by actions. In the world of betting the
phrase holds somewhat the same significance as does
the "five dollar millionaire" of the Great White Way.
A cheap sport. A four-flusher.
In surveys of the public lands of the United States, a
division of territory six miles square, containing thirty-
A wild or vicious animal which should be avoided or
slain. Opposed to ''critter/' which signifies a harm-
less or domesticated animal as the cow or the house cat.
A burro may fall in either category according to cir-
Formula for determining at a glance the number of
feet board measure a tree whose diameter and height
is known will yield when it is felled in logs of various
In camp horses or burros are usually loosed at night
and the business of looking them up and bringing
them in in the morning is called wrangling.